Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Voices Behind the Blog

Last week, Stephen Carter-Novotni sat down with Griff and me for CityBeat's thirty-second podcast. The hour-long conversation covers a wide variety of topics, including our takes on the constantly shifting lines between social media, blogging, and journalism; why Griff started the blog (and why I joined him); and which blogs we read.

Many thanks to Stephen for inviting us to participate and for being an extremely gracious podcast host, as well as for doing his best not to make us look any dumber than our own dumbness naturally requires.

Thank You WOXY!

I was very glad to read CitBeat's blog post about WOXY's Local Lixx program keeping a Cincinnati centric edition going after WOXY moved its operation to Austin, TX. Thanks to all the WOXY team for keeping this showcase of great Cincinnati area music going.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Relish Leaves A Bad Taste In My Mouth

Martin Wade of the Relish Group is apparently threatening to sue Jean Robert de Cavel to prevent him from opening a restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Buddhakhan. Wade claims that the chef signed some sort of non-compete agreement when the partnership dissolved. (Hat tip: Polly Campbell's blog, which I'm having difficulty linking to right now.)

Given Jean Robert's popularity in this area, this seems like a terrible PR move. Did Wade really think it was a good idea to make public that he would do everything he could to prevent a viable business from opening in a vacant space in the center of downtown? And does he really think people will support his effort to keep Jean Robert--who adopted this city as his own even after he and his wife had every reason to return to their native land--from continuing to be a culinary presence here?

What's more, non-compete agreements are notoriously difficult to enforce. The courts don't like them. Who wants to strip someone of his or her livelihood? I'm sure Jean Robert will have no difficulty finding able counsel to represent his interests should Wade decide to sue. I can think of plenty of attorneys with expertise in that field who would be willing--quite literally--to work for food. (As long as it's Jean Robert's.)

Why? Just Why?

I have no other comment, I am just sick of fish.

Hollan TV Commerical

Nicholas Hollan has released his TV commercial which was to hit the airwaves earlier this week:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

One Blog, Several Voices

Any reasonable person knows this already, but I thought I'd point it out in case there was any doubt.

When we post here, each of us speaks for him- or herself. When I express ambivalence about the streetcar, it should be obvious that Griff does not share this sentiment. Griff doesn't need to specifically rebut me in order for his disagreement to stand. Conversely, I don't agree with everything others write here, though I don't typically write rebuttals. (The exception, of course, is Jack. As he is the oldest wisest of the four of us, I always reflexively agree with him.)

Back to regular blogging.

And We Will Know They Are Christians By Their . . .?

On Wednesday, the Family Research Council (FRC) issued a statement objecting to the Obama administration’s pledge to “establish the nation’s first national resource center” to assist communities providing services to elderly LGBT communities. The statement from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that there are now “as many as 1.5 to 4 million LGBT individuals are age 60 and older.” FRC counters that providing such services makes no sense because there just are not that many LGBT senior citizens because “homosexual conduct” makes them die early, stating:

In reality, HHS has no idea how many LGBT seniors exist. No one does! The movement is only a few decades old, and people who are 80- or 90-years-old didn’t grow up in a culture where it was acceptable to identify with this lifestyle.

Of course, the real tragedy here–apart from the unnecessary spending–is that, given the risks of homosexual conduct, few of these people are likely to live long enough to become senior citizens! Yet once again, the Obama administration is rushing to reward a lifestyle that poses one of the greatest public health risks in America. If this is how HHS prioritizes, imagine what it could do with a trillion dollar health care overhaul!

Do these people have any idea how stupid they sound? Oh, and by the way, can any of my Human Rights Campaign colleagues who were positively giddy at the signing of the Hate Crimes legislation point me to a place in President Obama's signing statement where he uttered the word gay?

And while America's Attorney General apparently doesn't "really know enough about the referendum over there to comment" (yes, he really did say such a cowardly and false thing), there is a referendum in Maine next week that would undo the representative democratic process (yes, that is how America works) that expanded the right to marry in Maine to gay and lesbian citizens. So please join me in supporting No On One Final Push in Maine! To see details and contribute now please go to

Desperate Wenstrup Doesn't Support Cincinnati

Mayoral Candidate Bran Wenstrup is reading the polls and going negative because he has no other way to try and dent the lead Mark Mallory has in the race. This is no big suprise for all of the talk about Wenstrup run a very above board campaign, he's reveled that he will use fear at the end of the day as his main campaign tactic.

What I find more troubling is the fact that Wenstrup doesn't have the pride or trust of the city to run his campaign finances out of an office within the city. Instead he is running it from the office of Anderson Township Republicans. According to Brad's website the Citizens for Wenstrup, Jill Springman, Treasurer is located at 262 Jakaro Drive, "Cincinnati", OH 45255. Let's do a little Google Search and see where that address is:
View Larger Map

So if anyone can do geography, even slightly, you would notice that the point on the map above is way out in Anderson Township, past the mall, off of Eight Mile Road. Furthermore, if you do another Google Search you would find that address is shared by the Anderson Township Republican Club, it is also the based for the HC Republican Woman's Club. A shocking coincidence? No, we knew that is where his support comes from.

In all fairness I will point out that Wenstrup is also using a 700 walnut St. address Downtown on his mailers, which is another county Republican Group's HQ, so he's at least got a presence inside the city, but his money base lies outside the City. So, not only does Wenstrup not support the City, he doesn't have much support within the City, if he has to go out of the City for his campaign contributions. When he started his campaign committee, where did he go to start his campaign, who did he turn to? He went outside the City. Brad has the mindset of someone who just does not support the city and obviously feels more at home outside the city. His political fortune might be more successful outside the city. It will not be successful within it.

Name Some Names

So, some Democratic incumbents/candidates or their staffs are ticked at Laure Quinlivan's campaign rhetoric. I really think CityBeat's Kevin Osborne should name who is pissed because I think this is quite silly. Quinlivan basically is saying she is more qualified than others, her opinion, which the voters can decide on, nothing new. Also, she is running against the incumbents, but doesn't name, names. Well, she's a challenger and needs to go after those on a faceless council. I don't like the tactic, but it is hardly harsh. She wants to win and other candidates, even Dem candidates, could be taking aways votes from her, so if she can criticize on the sly her fellow Dems, she'd gotta do it, especially when she thinks she better for the office than others.

If she did encourage the use of the "bullet voting" tactic, then that was really selfish, but not the kind of thing you air to the press until after the election.

This is the type of thing that other Dems can be pissed about, but it isn't new and isn't what I would NOT call uncommon. It also pales in comparison to the active council maneuvering Jeff Berding undertook against his fellow Dems, not to mention the negative comments he made about the city. That is being a bad party member.

Not going on the record and trying to get a background based story out of a CityBeat reporter is rather gutless.

The Foursome of No

The foursome on council referred to as the Minority Four (Berding, Bortz, Ghiz, and Monzel) are clearly playing games with critical issues and are quite frankly being hypocrites. The Four want to push through a vote on property taxes, but they want more time on the Queensgate barge facility, East Side zoning issues and federal funding for a homeless shelter.

I just really hate games and I hate it when the games are so obvious. When you lack the votes and resort to using obscure rules to obstruct projects and issues that a majority of council supports, it shows very clearly that you (the Four) are more concerned about politics and getting reelected than about getting something done.

Why is it horrible to wait on voting on the Property Tax? The Four don't have the votes on it, so all they are doing is playing for the media and hoping that a lot of people are actually paying attention. The few of us who follow this type of detail know this is a stunt, even if Boyscout Chris Monzel says he actually has concerns about these issues and wants to delay the vote. What's the excuse for the other three?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Charlie's Circus

The lawsuit filed against Council candidate Charlie Winburn seems very far fetched, but this points to the circus that surrounds Winburn. The man the filed the lawsuit allegedly was employed by Winburn's church for about a year. The article also points out that Winburn has Sam Malone as an associate, and Malone allegedly interacted with the individual who filed the lawsuit. Malone, the former council member, was charged with beating his son with a belt in 2005, but was later acquitted.

Irregardless of the validity of this lawsuit, Winburn will just be bad for council. He has nothing to show for his prior time on council and has an extreme set of political beliefs that have no place in modern society.

Also, Dem Chair Burke is worried about Winburn for another reason.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Forbes: Cincinnati Among Safest Cities

According to a new ranking by Forbes magazine, Cincinnati is the ninth safest city of the forty largest cities in the nation.

The ranking takes into account several factors, of which the crime rate is just one. Interestingly, if you rank cities only by violent crime rate, Cincinnati is the 8th safest. Detroit (which has been mentioned by some local politicians as perhaps foreshadowing Cincinnati's future) is 12th safest overall, but dead last--40t--when only violent crime is considered.

Here's the full list from Forbes.

I guess combat gear isn't really necessary to walk around here, after all.

TV Ad For No On 9

Should be hitting the airwaves today:

This Ain't Moxy, This is Bitchy

I know how much local Republicans are cheering on the juvinile behavior of Council Member Leslie Ghiz, but this is not tough talk from a concerned elected official, this is frustration born from personal animosity coming through. The inner teenager has come forth and she is not thoughtful, she is bitchy. You don't tell the chair of a committee to shut up on an open mike in session. You just don't do that and expect to be considered civil. A council session is not an episode of the Hanity Show, where guests are encouraged to be antagonistic to the point of calling each other four letter words. Council meetings should be civil. If Ghiz has a beef with Cole, have it out behind closed doors like adult politicians do.

If this was done as a stunt to get attention, then Ghiz has stooped to a new low. It is beneath any council member and that would put her on the level of political bottom feeder, going for the cheap and hollow vote.

I question whether deep down Ghiz actually wants to be reelected to council. Her tone this campaign season has been totally negative. If she does win, I really hope she grows up a little bit and ends the childish behavior. One can be forceful with dignity, but still get your point across. She needs to learn how to do that, or just quit politics.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kevin Flynn - Extreme On Abortion

In local races the issue of a woman's right to an abortion, shouldn't be material. I don't in any way mean to say it isn't important, I mean to say that a woman's right to choose an abortion is the law of the land. City Council members' stances on the issue should be nearly insignificant. Locally, the only council member to make it an actual issue has been Chris Monzel. His stances on what should be covered by city provide health insurance is well known and just one of many, many reasons not to vote for him. It is also why he gets the endorsement from the Cincinnati Right to Life PAC ever year.

This year's race adds a new name to the anti-abortion PAC list, Charterite Kevin Flynn. His responses to the CRTLPAC questionnaire(pdf) are eye opening and extreme and to say the least very disappointing.

Flynn has three stances that stand out and make it impossible for me to vote for him. In his response he omitted Rape and Incest as grounds for when an Abortion should be legal. He did include the life of the mother, but his use of choosing to not fall on a grendade as a rational to want to die does I believe belittle the value of the mother and of women in general.

The second stance is in his support of banning the coverage of abortion by the City employee health Insurance plans. Under Flynn's view, it is moral that if an employee of the City is raped, she must pay to end the pregnancy herself. It is so very disappointIng that the value of
women is placed below the intent of the rapist.

The third stance is in my opinion the most disappointing by far, Kevin Flynn filled out the questionaire at all. City Counil lacks to the power to do anything about Abortion being legal or not. The issue is something that should not have a baring on the council race. Flynn should have followed the path of his two fell Charter candidates, Bortz and Qualls, and not completed the questionaire.

It wasn't great seeing Cecil Thomas on the RTL endorsement list, but not as much of a surprise. His answers to the question were no different, but he avoided adding details to the "Yes/No" answers. I don't remember if Cecil got the endorsement in 2007 and I can't find a working link to who was endorsed at all 2 years ago.

COAST's Rapid Transit Map

This map floating around Twitter over the weekend is funny and over the top, but I think it captures the delusions of the leaders of COAST very well. It illustrates so much of what is wrong with COAST and those who align themselves with their ideas, like Brad Wenstrup. Stagnant thinking has slowed Cincinnati far too long and the people of Cincinnati need to break free of the past and understand they don't have to think like that. We are better than this and can defeat it. One step towards that defeat happens a week from tomorrow.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Issues 8 and 9: Why Vote on Voting?

I understand why the supporters of Issue 8 don't want City Council to create a regional water district. In fact, I think I'm in their camp, if only because Council would lose control of water rates. And I think there's a strong argument that the creation of a water district should require a charter amendment (and thus a referendum). Water Works is, after all, referenced in the charter (the power to appoint the agency's chief is one of the powers vested in the city manager).

And I understand why the supporters of Issue 9 think building a streetcar is a bad idea.* (I'm generally lukewarm on the streetcar and believe regardless of the passage or failure of Issue 9, the private investment dollars needed to build the streetcar--and forecast by its most ardent proponents--are unlikely to materialize.) I disagree that the decision should be embedded within the City Charter. In a republic, budget appropriations are a matter left to the discretion of the elected legislature. The anti-streetcar sentiment is understandable, even if I don't feel it myself.

But I don't understand why Issues 8 and 9 are written as they are. Why doesn't Issue 8 simply ban the creation of a regional water district or the sale of the water works to a private corporation? (Issue 8 as written, by the way, would not prevent the privatization of Cincinnati's water works, though I've heard no serious person propose such a thing, anyhow.) Why doesn't Issue 9 simply ban the expenditure of funds for a streetcar? Why do the drafters of these ballot issues leave open the possibility that they'll win this time, but lose a referendum in a subsequent election?

After all, the drafters of Issues 8 and 9 certainly know how to write a straightforward, no-loopholes charter amendment. When the NAACP and COAST teamed up to write the anti-red-light amendment a few years ago, it was just that. It didn't call for a separate vote on the cameras; instead, it simply banned their use to impose civil or criminal penalties.

As I was thinking about Issues 8 or 9, it occurred to me that their structure must be relatively unique. Apart from the method to amend a charter or constitution, I cannot think of federal, state, or local constitutional or charter provisions calling for a referendum before a legislature takes a certain action. (With respect to budget appropriations like that implicated in Issue 9, by the way, I believe a state-wide referendum would, in fact, be unconstitutional under state law, as the state constitution explicitly excludes those from the referendum process.) But after a little research, I realized that Issues 8 and 9 do, indeed, have a precedent: Article XI of the City Charter.

What's that? You say you don't know what Article XI is? It's been on the books for over a half-century. It says:
Any ordinance enacted by the Council of the City of Cincinnati which provides for the fluoridation of water processed and distributed by the Cincinnati Water Works must first be approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question at a special or general election before said ordinance shall become effective, and any ordinance to fluoridate the water distributed by the Cincinnati Water Works that may have been enacted before this amendment is adopted shall cease to be effective until approved by a majority of the electors voting on the question at a special or general election.
That's right: back in the 1950's, Cincinnatians vehemently opposed efforts to add fluoride to their drinking water. After the charter was amended to include Article XI, three separate referenda to fluoridate the water failed. It took the intervention of the Ohio EPA--with assistance from the Ohio Supreme Court--to improve Cincinnatians' dental health. (And proving the stubborness of Queen City residents, one report seems to suggest that in the wake of fluoridation, bottled water sales increased dramatically.)

So there you have it. Historical precedent for the two strange (from a structural standpoint) issues on this year's ballot: fluoride-alarmists!

Charter amendments ought to be straightforward and do what they intend. If selling water works to a regional water authority is a bad idea, let's just preclude it. If a streetcar is a bad idea and the only way to prevent one is a charter amendment, let's do that. But let's not waste time voting on whether to vote.

*Yes, I realize Issue 9 is about more than the streetcar. I suspect the bulk of its city-resident supporters, though, are concerned only with the streetcar, and not more minimal outlays for things like the Zoo train or the 3C rail line.

Great No On 9 Video!

Even though I am a PC user, this is still really funny and to the point.

Passage Lounge Coming To Downtown

Construction is in progress and the signs in the window give a hint at what is to be Passage Lounge. The location is at 601 Main Street, which is immediately on the corner of 6th Street. I couldn't find mention of this venue anywhere else on the web, so I don't know how much, if any, promotion has occurred.

This would add to the growing number of "lounges" in downtown, which I would define as an upscale bar/club, like FB, the Righteous Room, and Tonic. I've not heard mention what ever became of Bang's re-imaging, which I thought would have been completed by now. These types of clubs can be short lived, so depending on who is running this new venue, I wonder how it will compete.

This location would be across from the 580 building where plans for a Mr. Sushi restaurant were announced over the summer. I've not seen any progress on the restaurant, at least none visible from the street. Mr. Sushi was slated to open in the Fall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

For Bris Chortz and Mark Miller: Read the Law

A commenter, known as Bris Chortz, has been defending Mark Miller of COAST for the allegedly false Affidavit filed in Miller's Ohio Ethics Commission complaint against Mayor Mark Mallory.  Bris wanted to claim that my statement was incorrect when I stated filing a false Affidavit was against the law.  Well, I did a little research:
102.06 Powers and duties of ethics commission.
(A) The appropriate ethics commission shall receive and may initiate complaints against persons subject to this chapter concerning conduct alleged to be in violation of this chapter or section 2921.42 or 2921.43 of the Revised Code. All complaints except those by the commission shall be by affidavit made on personal knowledge, subject to the penalties of perjury. Complaints by the commission shall be by affidavit, based upon reasonable cause to believe that a violation has occurred.

The bold was added to make Bris aware of the law.  I am not making judgment as to Miller's actions, I am however pointing out the fact that I was not wrong and Affidavits in this instance are clearly covered by perjury.  I mean, if they weren't covered by perjury laws, why even have it be a sworn statement?

Sure, Bris and his fellow COAST supporters (I would surmise Bris is a member of COAST, maybe even Miller himself) can quibble over whether Miller knowingly filed a false statement.  Or they can quibble over the meaning of 'false.'  Language to them is fungible after all, judging by how they wrote Issue 9, and then claim it means something other than what it says.  If a perjury violation needs to be considered , then that is a matter for the justice system to determine, not mine.  A prosecutor could be satisfied by questioning Miller or his attorney that if Miller's address is incorrect on the Affidavit, that it was just a typo.  I know I make those all the time, but if I were to make that type
of 'mistake' on an Affidavit, and then release it to the public, I might either check the details and correct it first, or at least note the error.  At a minimum,  I think the OEC should reject the Affidavit on the grounds that it doesn't meet the requirements of a Complaint.  Miller could just reissue a new copy with a corrected address, and may have already done that, but just hasn't published that version.  I'm not going to wait around for anyone from COAST to admit to any mistakes.

Deters Power Grab

County Prosecutor Joe Deters must really like the Bengal's Stadium Lease since that's the last time the Prosecutor Lawyers did work on Riverfront Development for the County. That was back in the 1990's when Joe was the Prosecutor, before quiting for higher state office. In case your wondering, most consider the Bengal's lease to have given away the farm and first born of every county resident and handed them over to Bengal's owner Mike Brown.

If Joe Deters gets his way, his criminal lawyers will begin doing the work that private development lawyers are doing. We are going to get lower quality legal advice with this action. Why? Well, you don't hire a foot doctor if you need brain surgery.

Deters is trying to build up power. He's not up for reelection until 2012, so I guess he thinks he has a free hand to do what ever he wants. It is a tradition in Hamilton County to have despots in the Prosecutor's office. Leis, Deters, Allen, and now Deters again all have acted like they are above the law and have no to answer too. Because local political parties on the county level are dysfunctional, this office has become one where you don't have to worry about reelection because deals will be made to prevent an competition.

Harris Announces 2010 Budget Plan

Council Member Greg Harris has done something no other candidate has done: provide a 2010 budget plan that includes adjustments that make up the 51.5 million dollar projected deficit. He does it without layoffs. He does list a Trash collection fee which would fill a gap. That will surely get screams from the right wing, but once the election passes, I think their scream will subside on fee increases.

I am most pleased with Greg for being complete. He had the courage to do this now, before the election and he actually provided numbers that will add up to the deficit. Other candidates have presented cuts they would make, but they cite cutting some minor program or perk that adds up to a few hundred thousand dollars, nothing close to the full budget deficit.

Many of the cuts Greg proposes are going to face huge challenges, but I think Greg is willing to work with everyone. What we don't need is more Grandstanding from Ghis, Monzel, Berding, and the FOP Officers playing the role of chicken little. Since we are so close to the election, I don't predict big political pushes to attack Greg, since those council members are not safe enough to focus on getting out their base.

Greg's action to publicize his realistic plan is what we want from our council. Greg is governing. He is being upfront, but will be smart and will not negotiate with the Unions in the media. We need to keep Greg on council.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday at Grammer's: NEIN ON NINE!

Fun Party this Saturday at Grammer's: NEIN ON NINE! all in the effort to defeat Issue 9.

The ville have beear.

Is Cunningham Against Issue 9?

The Phony Coney is reporting that local talk radio host and regular city basher Bill Cunningham is against Issue 9. The Provost links to the podcast with Cunningham's comments. Is this for real? Does Cunningham actually oppose Issue 9? This isn't April 1st is it? I didn't just teleport to Bizzaro World, did I?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Phony Coney: Miller's Not Home?

The Phony Coney brings to light an important item that allegedly was overlooked by Mark Miller before filing his affidavit in an attempt to smear the Mayor. The question is out there: Where does Mark Miller actually live? Does he even know? Can we trust anything he says if he can't get his address correct?

Council: Handicapping the Race

Predicting who will win City Council is both easy and very difficult. It is easy to get those who are locks to win and likely to win. After that, it is all open ended. It is a fool's errand to try and predict the actual order of finish to any level of accuracy, so don't look for that here. What I have done, instead, is create tiers and grouped candidates based on their likelihood of being in the top nine. Here is my take on the race, two weeks out. Each group is in alphabetical order.

A Lock to Win:
Roxanne Qualls

Likely to Win:
Chris Bortz
Laketa Cole
Leslie Ghiz
Cecil Thomas

In the Mix:
Jeff Berding
Kevin Flynn
Greg Harris
Chris Monzel
Laure Quinlivan
Bernadette Watson
Charlie Winburn

Strong Finish, But Out of the Money:
Tony Fischer
Nickolas Hollan

The Rest:
Anitra Brockman
Amy Murray
LaMarque Ward
Wendell Young
George Zamary

As far as order goes, as I mentioned, there is no way to know. I would say anyone not in the mix could be as high as 13 or 12. A good measure of a candidate that does not win is their placement. If you get anywhere from 10th to 13th, you had a good run and are a contender for 2011.

There are of course two weeks to go, so anything could happen, but usually doesn't.

Minor note: I will go out on a limb here and say the Mayor Mallory will be reelected. The only speculation will be what percentage Wenstrup has to reach in order for Alex Triantafilou to claim the GOP is on the rise in the City. I would suggest that anything less than 50.000001% of the vote would be a sign that the GOP is not on the rise in Cincinnati.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Issue Three Narrowly Ahead in Poll

In a Poll of 800 likely Ohio voters 48% favor Issue Three, 44 Oppose, with a margin of error at 3.5%. This vote is going to be close.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Question For the Candidates

Had I been at the mayor's debate last week, I'd have asked the following:

Given the choice between laying off fifty police officers, closing half the city's pools, closing some or all of the city's health clinics, or decreasing the frequency of trash collection, which would you choose?

Before you all flay me in the comments: no, I have no idea whether these are actually fiscal equivalents. But if being a reporter covering politics were my full-time job, I'd figure out the equivalents and ask the question with the correct numbers.

Can we "cut our way to prosperity?" Of course not. But absent a massive tax increase, some cuts are inevitable in the 2010 budget. And no one, so far, has told us what they'll cut.

And no, I'm not going to suggest an answer to that question myself.

Random Sports Thought

It just occurred to me that this was a pretty good weekend for former Cincinnati athletes.

Former Red Jerry Hairston scored the game-winning run (after getting on base by hitting a single) in the bottom of the 13th inning, giving the Yankees a 2-0 edge in the ALCS.

And former Bengal Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Buffalo Bills to an overtime victory (albeit an ugly one) over the New York Jets.

New Local Political Blog: Plum Street Studios

E. Gooding has a new blog called Plum Street Studios and has a good post tearing apart the Enquirer's Council Endorsements.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Enquirer Splits the Baby into Fourths, Kinda

When reading the Enquirer's list of endorsements for city council a mighty big correction needs to be made. Jeff Berding does not deserve the "D" next to his name. It is obvious they did this on purpose and refuse to acknowledge the rebuke Berding got from the local Democrats who revoked his endorsement. So, they are knowingly putting out false information. I guess Berding needs every ounce of help he can get, and fooling some voters into thinking he has the backing of the Democrats just may be another way the Enquirer can help.

Here is the full slate of Enquirer Endorsements:
Jeff Berding
Roxanne Qualls
Chris Bortz
Leslie Ghiz
Nicholas Hollan
Cecil Thomas
Kevin Flynn
Amy Murrary
Charlie Winburn

Yes, you read the last name correctly, Charlie Winburn. Did the Enquirer political writers push for this because they want the man in office because he will produce good quotes? He will add nothing if elected and will in fact be a force for retreat and destruction. Winburn is off the deep-end and will damage the city if elected.

I will say I am pleased to see two names on this lsit: Nicholas Hollan and Kevin Flynn. Both are good candidates that need help to win, but are people I want to see in future elections.

The fourths I mentioned in the the title reference how politically wide the Enquirer is going. They have three Republicans, two Dems, three Charterites, and one Independent. So, four parts, but not equal. There are three Women and two African-Americans. Five incumbents, three new challengers, one former council-member. With the exception of Winburn, this slate does average out in the middle, where most of the candidates may lean to the left or right, they are mostly moderate or mainstream on their political side of the spectrum. The Enquirer has long been called a Conservative Newspaper, and they are, on a national level, but with this slate, they are trying to appeal to everyone. That leads to something close to a big bowl of goulash, this bowl is a bit bland, without much spicy difference.

With this slate the Enquirer is trying to present a unifying team. The problem is that with candidates like Berding, Ghiz, and Winburn you are going to maintain the drama the Enquirer seems to loathe. Many, mostly on the right, blame this Summer's city budget circus on the "Majority Five," but the circus part was created, totally, by Ghiz, Berding, Monzel, and the FOP leadership out to save the raises of senior police officers. The City could have gotten the concessions at worst at the same point in time it actually happened, minus the circus, but instead Ghiz, Berding, and Monzel wanted to score political points and gain attention. It is too bad the Enquirer has rewarded two of the three for their theatrics with an endorsement.

This year's council race is going to be interesting for many reasons, but from an analytical perspective the area I am paying the most attention too is the power of the Republican/Conservative votes in the city. What good will the FOP, POWR PAC, and Enquirer endorsements do? What good does going on WLW's Bill Cunningham show actually do for a candidate in the City? Bottom line, did the trends of 2008 really come true, are we more of a liberal City/County? That will not become clear until the detailed results are reported after the election, but the speculation on that is already being tested.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is This An Example of TMI?

I now have a man crush on Eric Deters. I don't always agree with him when he's on WLW, but if he ever wants to work a case with me (or let me work one with him) on this side of the river, I'd sign on in a second.

On City and County Consolidation

With the difficult budget choices facing both the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, leaders (and candidates for offices) in both governments have begun discussion the consolidation of services. One of the most talked-about targets for consolidation is the Prosecution Division of the City* Law Department, which currently prosecutes all misdemeanor offenses committed within city limits. While I've heard some talk about this, I've not seen any real discussion of what such a consolidation would mean in practice. I thought I'd address it here.

First, a primer on the way misdemeanors are prosecuted in Hamilton County: All misdemeanor offenses are handled in the Hamilton County Municipal Court, which generally occupies the first and second floor of the county courthouse. There are fourteen municipal court judges. The City staffs each courtroom with one prosecutor. The County (responsible for prosecuting most misdemeanors committed outside city limits) assigns one prosecutor to cover two courtrooms, but also has a couple of "floaters" and a supervisor. (These can help out if, for instance, a prosecutor has a room with a particularly long docket or a prosecutor has a trial or is out sick.) The County prosecutors spend their mornings rotating between their two rooms. (While they're in one room, the City prosecutor keeps the court in the other room busy. The arrangement makes sense, as the city's docket is generally--but not always--longer than the county's in any given courtroom.)

When people talk about "consolidating" the two offices, they generally are proposing the near-elimination of the City Prosecutor's Office. Let's be clear at the outset about "consolidation," then: it's political-speak for layoffs. It may be a good idea, but it means that people will lose their jobs. Note that I wrote "near-elimination," though. That's because Hamilton County wouldn't prosecute everything currently handled by the City. Anything charged under Cincinnati municipal code (rather than Ohio Revised Code) would still be handled by a City prosecutor. That means the marijuana and income tax laws. It also means the City's "housing docket," which is the result of the criminalization of Cincinnati's administrative building code. The same is true for other cities in the county. If a crime is committed in Norwood, for instance, is charged under Norwood's municipal code, and transferred from Norwood Mayor's Court to HamCo Municipal Court, then an attorney from the Norwood Law Department comes to the county courthouse to handle the prosecution. Cincinnati would have to make similar arrangements.

What would consolidation mean for the County? I suspect the County would have to add five to seven prosecutors to its municipal division. The judges, I imagine, would be unhappy if their courtrooms were at a standstill for long periods of time while their assigned prosecutor was in another room; the amount of cases alone would probably dictate at least one prosecutor per room. I'll admit that I don't know how fines and costs are distributed, and whether the City collects money from cases it prosecutes under Ohio Revised Code. If so, the City would lose that money and the County would gain it. Whether the loss exceeds the salaries paid to city prosecutors or the gain would exceed the extra salaries the County would have to pay is a good question.

So those are the nuts and bolts. But there are broader policy considerations to think about, as well. The American justice system vests prosecutors with enormous discretion about whom to charge; what to charge; and what type of plea bargain to offer. With respect to the vast majority of cases heard in municipal court, there is little or no difference in the "deal" a defendant would get from a city prosecutor versus what he'd get from the county. But there are cases--and certain charges--where there seems to be a policy difference. Talk about consolidation raises an interesting philosophical question: With whom would we prefer prosecutorial discretion to be vested? Should it be in an office at the head of which is an elected official, who is thus directly accountable to the citizenry? Or should it be an office further removed from the political process? Such decisions are well beyond my pay grade, but they ought to be raised by those presently in charge (or those who presently argue for consolidation). Cincinnatians should ask themselves whether there's value in having local (municipal-level) control of prosecutions. Or maybe they'd prefer to have these prosecutions handled by an elected prosecutor who can be voted out of office if his or his assistants' decisions don't sit well with the populace. Answering those questions is again, beyond me. But they're important questions to discuss before we make major alterations of our government in order to respond to a short-term budget crisis.

Finally, I should note that I'm told by life-long Cincinnatians that consolidation of the prosecutors' offices has come up several times over the last couple decades, and the idea has always fizzled out in the past.

* Yes, there is more than one city in Hamilton County. But for brevity's sake, I'll use "City" to refer to Cincinnati, unless otherwise specified.

Failed Leadership of the Past

When people ask where the backwards attitude of many Cincinnati Area residents comes from, you can point them to the failed leadership of the past from people like Tom "Status Quo" Luken. Add in Si Leis, Dusty Rhodes, the leaders of the FOP, Westwood Concern, and the members of COAST and one can see why Cincinnati's direction was for so long held back. We have moved forward in the last 5 or 6 years and are on the right track to a better Cincinnati. When you are voting this November, don't vote for the status quo of 1985 that Tom Luken longs for. Instead, look to the future. Look towards what Cincnnati could become, not towards a delusion a few are trying create based on a mthyical past, that never exsisted.

One specicfic way you can keep us moving forward is to Vote No on Issue 9.

#1 Ranked Miami Hockey Plays New Hampshire

The #1 ranked and 2-0 Miami University Hockey Team heads to New Hampshire this weekend for a series with the 0-1 Wildcats.

Challenging Schmidt From the Right, Seriously?

So, a far right Republican is going to challenge Jean Schmidt from the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional district's primary. This does nothing but help Democrats, so thanks to C. Michael Kilburn for helping drain Schmidt's campaign funds.

COAST Lying, Again? You Don't Say!

The Phoney Coney sniffs out the lies from COAST, yet again. Nothing anyone will be shocked about,we are talking about COAST after all, but the facts need to be put out there to counter the misinformation from COAST.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rusty Ball Coming Soon

One of my favorite local bands (and certainly my pick for band with the best name), the Rusty Griswolds, will once again put on the Rusty Ball. The event is scheduled for Saturday, November 21 beginning at 8:00 at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Fifty bucks gets you in the door, four drink tickets served by celebrity bartenders, and an $89 room rate at the Hyatt so you can sleep off all the fun.

The Rusty Ball has a serious side, too. The proceeds of the event (in particular, $30 of your ticket price) will be donated to charity. And even better, the money will go to the charity of your choice. A quick look at the "beneficiary list" reveals a large, diverse group of charities that will be supported by the ball. Whether you're interested in curing cancer, helping people with mental illnesses, or supporting the family members of injured or killed police officers, there's an opportunity to help a charity whose work you admire. You choose the charity your money supports at the time you purchase your ticket (or you can choose to support all of the charities).

I'm sure we'll have more on this as the Ball draws near, but I wanted to point it out so you can mark it on you calendars now, if you're so inclined.

What A Country -- I Guess The Constitution Just Doesn't Apply In Some Places.

HAMMOND, La. (AP) — A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

Neither Bardwell nor the couple immediately returned phone calls from The Associated Press.

But Bardwell told the Daily Star of Hammond that he was not a racist.
"I do ceremonies for black couples right here in my house," Bardwell said. "My main concern is for the children."

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

"I don't do interracial marriages because I don't want to put children in a situation they didn't bring on themselves," Bardwell said. "In my heart, I feel the children will later suffer." If he does an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said. "I try to treat everyone equally," he said.

Thirty-year-old Beth Humphrey and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey told the newspaper she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell's wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples.

"It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009," said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzman. "The Supreme Court ruled as far back as 1963 that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry."

The ACLU was preparing a letter for the Louisiana Supreme Court, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and see if they can remove him from office, Schwartzman said.

"He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it," Schwartzman said.

According to the clerk of court's office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce. Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card. The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk's office.

The Hut is Dead, Long Live Mayday

CityBeat has another good story this week about the the Gypsy Hut reopening as Mayday under new ownership. The Gypsy Hut crowd was not my crowd, but I'm looking forward to giving this new venue a try. Opening Night is October 24th with big show from the Lions Rampant, Oxford Cotton and Earthquakes (DJs Kendall Bruns and John Hogan).

Brinkman Picks on the Public Library

I guess Tom Brinkman doesn't know a puppy he wouldn't like to shoot in the head. His dislike of publicly funded libraries is out in the open in this column at the Beacon. Tom really knows how to hit hard, attacking Harry Potter! What is worse in the world than having a bunch of copies of a book for the public to read? I mean 'seriously,' what citizen doesn't want to close down library branches where anyone can go and learn, for free. That is just...just such an American thing to do. Who in their right mind wants to act like an American and give away opportunities to gain knowledge to any Joe off the Street?

Osborne Takes Down Westwood Concern

CityBeat's Kevin Osborne does a great job Westwood Concern and its key supporters, namely Melva Gweyn and Mary Kuhl, but several other leaders and loud mouths who give the neighborhood a bad name. I really can't add much to Kevin's article, so just go read it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghassomian Leaving Cincinnati

For those who follow the YP and civic circles of Cincinnati this may be surprising news about Kevin Ghassomian.

Jean-Robert's Table To Open By Year's End

Foodies all around Cincinnati have been seen literally dancing for joy at news that Jean-Robert de Cavel is opening a new restaurant in downtown Cincinnati. The location is at the former Buddakhan on the 700 block of Vine St. I hope for something a little more downscale than Pigall's, more everyday or at least a couple times a month. I'm not a foodie, so I'll leave the discussion to others with more knowledge.

Groups Join Forces to Protect the Charter

A wide coalition has formed to Protect the City Charter by opposing the November, 2009 Cincinnati Charter Amendment Issue #9. The Coalition includes the Charter Committee, the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Cincinnatus Association, and the League of Women Voters. These groups are what you would call the grown-ups of Cincinnati. They have the experience to know what form of government works best. Local Business and Civic leaders have formed a coalition that agrees that constant nuisance referendums are not the way to run a representative democracy. These groups all agree: No on Nine.

Cincy Twitter Pros

Soapbox Cincinnati has assembled a list of the most interesting Tweeters in Cincinnati.

Don't forget you can follow the Cincinnati Blog on Twitter here, and our sister publication is on Twitter as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Donald's Take on the Mayoral Debate

Griff is live-blogging the mayor's debate. I don't want to provide as much running commentary as Griff, but I thought I'd weigh in with some thoughts.

After the first third: I'm not sure who prepared Brad Wenstrup for this debate, but they shouldn't ever prepare any other candidate. Both Wenstrup and Mark Mallory are pivoting to pre-prepped answers to questions, but it's much more obvious for Wenstrup. He keeps looking down at his notes, reading responses. It's obvious his goal isn't to answer a particular question, but instead to get part of his stump speech.

Wenstrup's opening statement was ineffective at best. He raised some good points about the mayor. For instance, if all the travel is good for Cincinnati's economy, why do we have a deficit? His delivery really stepped on the line, and it would have been a much more effective attack in a two-minute response. It would have been an awesome answer in response to the question later about fixing the deficit.

Mallory isn't quite on his "A-game," but he's doing quite well in comparison. He's touting what he views to be his accomplishments without really talking about his opponent. It's the typical game plan for a relatively popular incumbent.

Neither candidate offered useful responses to a question about how to bridge next year's deficit. Wenstrup's response was essentially "I'll cut anything but police and fire." Mallory simply told us that the city manager is working on it.

Near the end of the first twenty minutes, Wenstrup raised the issue of criminal justice reform and making sure that people in jail aren't simply warehoused there. An excellent idea, but it's not clear how that fits into his agenda for the city. After all, the administration of the jail is a county issue.

After 40 minutes: I'm reading through Griff's thoughts, and I disagree a bit. For instance, when Wenstrup answered the question about how to increase the awarding of contracts to minority-owned businesses, he did have a specific: break large projects down into smaller parcels so that small contractors can successfully bid. What Wenstrup didn't say--and perhaps he doesn't know--is that this was the model for the Freedom Center construction; it successfully increased MBE participation in the project.

Mallory said something interesting about the streetcar. I thought we've been told that the streetcar isn't about transportation, it's about development. But tonight, he says it's about transportation. Specifically, he said it's about giving people in a neighborhood where somewhere over forty percent of people (I forget the precise number) don't have a car access to transportation. This is a smart pivot for streetcar proponents. It's not about "economic development" (often perceived as more money for rich people) anymore; now it's about transportation options for poor people. Will people buy this?

Wenstrup shows again a lack of knowledge on criminal justice issues. He repeats a campaign promise to consolidate the City and County prosecutor. That's been discussed for decades, without results. And besides, the City's office couldn't be entirely eliminated (since the County wouldn't prosecute offenses arising entirely under Cincinnati's municipal code). I may have a full post on this proposed consolidation later this week.

A pretty useless question near the end of this period: "What's the worst thing that could happen if your opponent is elected?" Both opponents missed the opportunity to display some grace and class and to note that the city certainly won't shut down if the other guy wins. Mallory had the best answer, I thought: the city loses a lot of experience. The answer (which probably wasn't prepared ahead of time) gave Mallory the opportunity to extol his own virtues without really putting his opponent down.

After 40 minutes: again, I disagree with some of Griff's takes. He didn't like the question as to whether Cincinnati should adopt an executive mayor system. It's a good question; I've long advocated for a decrease in the role of the city manager with a corresponding increase in the mayor's power. While I disagree with Mallory's conclusion, he answered the question quite well.

Asked about under-served neighborhoods, Wenstrup pivots back to his proposal for a liaison between the mayor and the community councils. He's not made it clear why a special staff position needs to be created for this. And wouldn't a better answer be a commitment to try to attend community council meetings? Mallory had a better answer to this, citing a specific neighborhood (Walnut Hills) that will change significantly (for the better) next year.

Closing statements: Mallory had a good closing statement. Frankly, though, Wenstrup's closing may have been his strongest moment tonight. He didn't talk specifics, but he didn't intend to. A very nice call for service.

Parting thoughts from me: Overall, the mayor had the upper hand in the debate. When the two candidates talked about crime numbers, they were talking past each other. Mallory talked about decreasing crime, and he did so by going back to 2000. Wenstrup talking about a trend towards increase, and he did that by comparing this year to last year. Generally, though, Mallory seemed in better command of the facts and had a better handle on the nuts and bolts of city administration.

And a word on the candidates' ties: they were likely symbolic of the evening. I think Wenstrup's tie hadn't been "camera tested," as it's one of those patterns that doesn't look good on TV. Mallory, though, wore a great shade of powder blue that really stood out on his white shirt.

It's pretty clear that Mallory will be re-elected. Wenstrup showed that he needs some seasoning before he's ready for a one-on-one race with the city's most powerful and most respected political family. But we should thank him for coming forward to run and giving an alternative viewpoint.

Mayoral Debate

So, here's my stream of thoughts on the debate, as it happens:

Opening Remarks:

Wenstrup had nothing to good to say about our city, all he had were negatives, and he brought up the debunked national study saying "one" of our neighborhoods is the most dangerous in the country.

Mallory cited his stats and not much else.

Question #1: Wenstrup stated his campaign speech, Mallory Answered it with positive ideas.

Question #2: Mallory avoided answering the question if public safety workers. Wenstrup said he would not cut safety workers, but then used gimmicks to say he would do something else but didn't have any details.

Question #3: Wenstrup is asked how to bring more jobs and he gave more gimmicks about minor ways to gain jobs. Mallory had more generalities, but clarified he

Question #4:Mallory running through long list of improvements and accomplishments on bringing crime down. Wenstrup instead points to perception of Cincinnati as being crime ridden, yet he is building up that FALSE perception.

Question #5: When asked what he would do with the estimated 20 million dollar a casino would bring to the city, he blathered on about generalities with no specifics. Mallory wants to create jobs with the 20 million dollars.

Question #6: Mallory answered the minority business question by stressing process. He didn't give specifics on how to do this. Wenstrup responded by saying this issue comes up a lot, but doesn't give any specifics.

Question #7: Wenstrup avoids the question on tourism and jumps on the Streetcar preamble from the long winded question. If you are going to avoid the question, why not stick to the topic. Mallory clarified the streetcar is not meant as a tourist attraction. He then put forth the strong points about how the streetcar will spawn development.

Question #8: Mallory put forth a long list again on how crime has been addressed and improved. Wenstrup sees increasing police community relations as a way to make the streets safer with groups like Citizens on Patrol.

Question #9: Wenstrup wants to cut waste. What waste? He goes on to claim that merging city and county departments will affect the 2010 budget. It won't! Mallory shows we made cuts in 2009, he turned it to creation of jobs and attarcting new business like Grater's.

Question #10: Well the anti-streetcar bias in the Cincinnati Herald Reporter was clear there! Mallory turned the question back on her well. Wenstrup wants regional transportation, but where does he stand on issue 9? Is anyone going to ask that question? He fucking brought up the subway? Blame the GOP for that one!

Question #11: Terrible question, really terrible question. I am very disappoint with all three questioners so far. Wenstrup was taken aback by the question. Mallory went in for a minor zinger, bringing about the leadership and experience question.

Question #12: Another bad question! Geesh! Why not ask the Mayor if we should just abolish the democratic system! Grr! But does Wenstrup know what an Executive Mayor system is? Why have that now!

Question #13: Hunger bad, nutrition good.

Question #14: On the Arts: Mallory city should support the arts, cited the buildings CAM, Music Hall, Union Terminal, as ways we should support arts. Wentrup wants to promote the arts, but brings up crime because he has no opinions on anything.

Question #15: Wenstrup won't answer the question, it does trap the candidate into specifics. Mr. Wenstrup: MY NEIGHBORHOOD NEEDS THE STREETCAR! Mallory started to avoid naming one neighborhood, but comes through with Walnut Hills with a plan he being put in specifically.

Closing Remarks:

Mallory gave a good summary and was very gracious to Wenstrup thanking him for being a gentleman in the race.

Wenstrup: Returned the complement to Mallory. He did stick in a minor dig to the mayor talking about political plots, something he might want to look for in the FOP as well.

Overall Comments: Wow, that was bland. I learned nothing. There were no fireworks to write about, no zingers, no jabs, not much of anything. I really was disappointed with the questioners. Jane Prendergast was too insider and asked questions for a press conference. The woman from the Herald asked questions that matter to society, but not to the mayor's office. Her biased anti-streetcar question was the most biased of the night. Maryanne Zeleznik asked the most thoughtful questions, but they were too long and had confusing preludes that work for interviews, not debates.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Local Greens Hate the Environment

There is no other way to say it, but the Southwest Ohio Green Party is against passenger rail. They can say, oh, they don't like the wording of issue 9, but they still Support IT!

If Issue 9 passes, then high speed rail will skip the City of Cincinnati. That will mean more automobile traffic, more pollution, and more damage to the environment.

I think someone needs to tell the local Greens where the "Green" in their name comes from. Creating an urban core where people don't need to own an automobile is a goal any sane environmentalist would agree is a great goal to work towards for every city in the country.

Instead, local Greens want "capital projects that will satisfy existing needs, particularly in lower-income communities." What the Hell do they want, the city to build a Damn in Over-the-Rhine? How will adding jobs through both the building of the streetcar and the development it will attract to the entire urban core of the city NOT provide opportunity to the low income neighborhoods like OTR, West End, Corryville, South Fairmont, and the rest of the city?

The SWOGP are out on the deep end on this issue and have nothing to offer in its place. They share the "burn it to the ground" attitude of many extremists who prefer to sit on the sidelines of government and throw ill-conceived roadblocks in the way of progress instead of constructively working within the political system. Communism is dead and SWOGP is doing more to help COAST/Smitherman bring about Feudalism, than accomplishing anything they claim to believe.

Brand X on Midpoint

Brand X, Xavier's Student run television show covering music, has a very good episode on the Midpoint Music Festival. Here's part 1:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Who is Tom Chandler?

I pulled up the HamCo BOE's issues and candidates list, and noticed there's a write-in candidate for mayor named Tom Chandler.

Is this the same Tom Chandler who ran as a Democrat for other offices several times in the '90's? I cannot find a campaign website. Anyone have any idea why he's chosen to run a write-in campaign for mayor?

Bengals Thread

Just out of curiosity: if this past August, someone had told you that five weeks into the season, the Bengals would be 4-1--and undefeated in the division after playing each of their division opponents once--what would have been your reaction?

I'll be honest: I'd have laughed at you.

There's a good number of people who just can't wait to point out that the Bengals are "four plays away" from being 0-5. Fine. But they're also just one play away from being 5-0. So let's deal with what is, not what could have been. The Bengals defense, for the first time, is looking as formidable as we thought Marvin Lewis might be able to make a defense look. The offense is starting to look nearly as good as it did in 2005.

And could someone please get our tight end some Stickum?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good Review for Know's Boom!

The Enquirer gives a very good review for Know Theatre's Boom! which opens tonight and runs through November 7th. I'm hitting the Season opening night, this evening, and am really looking forward to this production. Get to some local Theatre! Advance tickets are only $12, which is a great deal for professional theatre.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wenstrup Might Want to Head Back to Iraq

So, you say you are running for public office in a city and while speaking to the local daily newspaper you make the claim:
"I felt safer in Iraq."
when talking about being back in Cincinnati, then you are a lousy candidate. By making such a clearly outlandish claim, Wenstrup has no respect for the City, otherwise he was lying, delusional, or never actually was in Iraq during any part of the war or occupation. Brad Wenstrup should be ashamed. He obviously knows nothing about this city and has NEVER experienced what it has to offer. I think he may want to consider moving out of the city, since he spouts the rhetoric of someone who hates the city and lives in the burbs.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Always Pay the Band

Yeah, if you want to get elected to office, always, repeat, always pay the band.

Streetcar Facts!

Here's a video providing facts on the Streetcar

As always check out for more.

Don't forget: No on 9!

Big Sports Event (That Isn't Football) This Weekend

It's hard to believe that there are sporting events other than football games in Cincinnati in October. But it's true. This weekend, the region is host to the Cincinnati International Cyclocross Festival, a festival featuring bicycle races in three venues--Covington, Middletown, and Fairfield--over the next three days.

The only thing I really know about competitive cycling is that women really seem to dig men in cycling jerseys. But judging from the Enquirer's article on the event, the Cyclocross Festival has become something akin to the tennis Master's tournament that's held in Mason each summer. The event has grown beyond all expectations over the last few years; big names in the sport come out for it; and everyone is surprised that Cincinnati is able to hold such a successful event. Think of it as a sort of two-wheeled Midpoint Music Fest (rumor has it that Cadillac Ranch plans to deny admission to anyone wearing bicycle shorts this weekend).

If you're not up to speed on the ins and outs of cyclocross, check out this Wikipedia article for some more information. This is one of those events that's good to see in the area, as it brings a diversity that major cities need to succeed. Individual races last only from half an hour to an hour, so you can easily stop by one of the venues and check things out without committing to an entire day. Or, you can spend all day at a venue, enjoying the races and perhaps even giving the sport a go during one of the open course sessions.

FTC Says Bloggers Must Disclose Freebies

Cincinnati-area bloggers, beware: The Federal Trade Commission has codified new guidelines that require bloggers to disclose any freebies, payment, swag, or other gratuities they get when they review a product.

In promulgating the guidelines, which apply for the first time to "new media," the FTC offers the following explanation:

The Commission does not believe that all uses of new consumer-generated media to discuss product attributes or consumer experiences should be deemed "endorsements” within the meaning of the Guides. Rather, in analyzing statements made via these new media, the fundamental question is whether, viewed objectively, the relationship between the advertiser and the speaker is such that the speaker’s statement can be considered “sponsored” by the advertiser and therefore an “advertising message.” In other words, in disseminating positive statements about a product or service, is the speaker: (1) acting solely independently, in which case there is no endorsement, or (2) acting on behalf of the advertiser or its agent, such that the speaker’s statement is an “endorsement” that is part of an overall marketing campaign? The facts and circumstances that will determine the answer to this question are extremely varied and cannot be fully enumerated here, but would include: whether the speaker is compensated by the advertiser or its agent; whether the product or service in question was provided for free by the advertiser; the terms of any agreement; the length of the relationship; the previous receipt of products or
services from the same or similar advertisers, or the likelihood of future receipt of such products or services; and the value of the items or services received. An advertiser’s lack of control over the specific statement made via these new forms of consumer-generated media would not automatically disqualify that statement from being deemed an “endorsement” within the meaning of the Guides. Again, the issue is whether the consumer-generated statement can be considered “sponsored.”

Thus, a consumer who purchases a product with his or her own money and praises it on a personal blog or on an electronic message board will not be deemed to be providing an endorsement. In contrast, postings by a blogger who is paid to speak about an advertiser’s product will be covered by the Guides, regardless of whether the blogger is paid directly by the marketer itself or by a third party on behalf of the marketer.

There's a lot of hysteria in the national blogosphere (particularly in the legal blogosphere), most of which is probably unjustified. Check out PCWorld's extremely layperson-friendly guide to the new guidelines. As the article notes, most bloggers who review the free stuff they receive already disclose the potential conflict. Still, though, local bloggers who get swag (hey Griff: where's my swag?) and talk about what they've received should take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the FTC's new interpretation of federal law.

Disclosure: I have not received money or other consideration from the FTC, PCWorld, or (sadly) Griff to comment on any of those entities' or individual's merits or shortcomings.

Issue Four WIll Fund Important Court Programs

Although the Enquirer's headline and lede on Issue 4 strive to cast the levy in the most negative light possible, the Family Services and Treatment Levy will fund several important programs administered by the Hamilton County courts.

The levy, while technically new, is really just a smaller version of the Drake levy, which is ending this year. Since Drake Hospital no longer needs public money, the Drake levy needs to end. But a significant portion of that levy has historically supported court-ordered treatment programs, so a new levy was created just to fund those.

In particular, the levy funds the municipal court's residential treatment programs and the common pleas Drug Court. The former is an alternative to jail sentences (but still places an offender in a facility guarded by the sheriff's office). The latter is the primary way that low-level, first time drug offenders in Hamilton County can participate in "treatment in lieu of conviction," through which a defendant can avoid a felony record by completing--under court supervision--a drug treatment program.

If passed, the levy will also fund two other noteworthy programs. The first, "Off the Streets," is run by Cincinnati Union Bethel. The program has been around since 2006, but hasn't previously been supported by county dollars. The program has an excellent reputation--and from what I've seen, a record of success. The second program would create a SAMI (substance abuse and mental illness) court in common pleas court. For the last few years, the municipal court has had a "mental health court," to which offenders with mental illness are tracked. They receive intensive supervision and connected with needed services. Presumably, the SAMI court would work the same way. I've represented several clients in the municipal court's program, and can't say enough about its potential to bring about positive change in individuals' lives.

All of these are important programs. If Issue 4 fails, judges will have fewer treatment and rehabilitative options. The levy funds programs that can really give people a fresh start in life.

March For Healthcare on 10/18/2009

Supporters of the President's efforts to gain healthcare reform are organizing a March For Healthcare. Marchers are meeting on Sunday October 18th at 11:30 AM on the corner of Walnut and 5th Streets. Come out and add your voice to the effort to improve our healthcare system, make it affordable, and protect patients.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cincinnati Zombie Walk

Well, you have a few weeks to prepare for the Zombie Attack, but one is coming to Downtown Cincinnati: Cincinnati Zombie Walk - October 30 2009 - 7:30 PM. The exact location is to be determined. I mean, Zombies aren't known to make their actual attack location public this soon. I'm surprised they gave a time. I'd check back with the website to find more details. I'm wondering what living humans are in collaboration with the Zombie Army. I mean Zombies don't type, so updating a website would be kind of difficult.

Cole Train Grows Wings, Flies Away

OK, does Laketa Cole think she does not have to campaign for public office? Two weeks off during the last month of the campaign is not the way you win elections. Seriously, if she wins, someone needs use her as the basis ofs a political science study of how much incumbency insures victory. This action by Cole should also be a message to the black community: she is taking your vote for granted.

Your Winnings Sir....

Yes, undoubtedly you are shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! Well, not gambling, actually, this isn't Issue Three, instead the FOP did not endorse those running for council from Majority Five. Despite the biased headline from the article, this is by no means a surprise or a shock or even something there was ever a question about. None of the four up for reelection: Cole, Harris, Qualls, or Thomas were endorsed by the FOP when they ran on 2007, and even if the four voted to give every FOP memeber a million dollar bonus, they still wouldn't have been endorsed.

It might have bee nice to get that fact in the news story.

It also would be nice for Enquirer not to repeat the FOP created "Furlough Five" phrase, especially when only Four of the Five are running for reelection. I know someone was dying for the alliteration exhibition, but accuracy should trump flair.

Monday, October 05, 2009

At What Cost Preservation?

I know that I'm about the get a lot of hate-mail (or at least nasty comments) on this. I can live with that.

The Enquirer offers this report on the Museum Center levy. The article's main point is that no matter what happens, the levy will be smaller next year than in the past.

Also in the story is this nugget: Union Terminal, which is 75 years old (not even considered "old" by European standards, but downtright antiquated to Midwestern Americans), is in disrepair due to its steel-and-concrete infrastructure design. (The problem is one endemic to buildings of that era.) The cost of repair could be as much as $140 million.

The Museum Center is great. I have no problem with taxpayers voting to support its operations. It's a worthwhile expenditure. But is preserving Union Terminal really worth $140,000,000? Certainly the cost to find a new building--or even simply to demolish Union Terminal and start over--would be much less.

Throughout America, historical preservation has become an end unto itself. But should we really be seeking to preserve buildings that weren't built well enough to withstand the test of time? And even if we should, is there any limit to the price we should be willing to pay?

Cold Turkey Closed

Cold Turkey, which I had previously raved about, has closed, seemingly for good.

Two friends and I were on our way there for lunch, and were greeted at the door by a "closed" sign and a rather dejected-looking owner. Apparently, the restaurant isn't closing because of lack of business, but instead because of a dispute with the building's owner. Cold Turkey's owner was obviously disappointed, particularly since business--including their catering business--had been doing quite well.

I'm sorry to see Cold Turkey go. It's exactly the kind of restaurant downtown needs. It was priced affordably, but served good enough food to appeal to professionals on lunch. It was also interesting enough between the late hours, the local art on the walls, and the live acoustic music to attract an eclectic clientele.

I hope that Cold Turkey's owners are able to recover enough of their investment to try again downtown soon. I'll certainly do whatever I can to promote a new venture here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

UC Now the Best College Football Team in Ohio

Well, at least according to the newest AP ranking. (Griff, aren't you glad I resisted the urge to post UC's alma mater after yesterday's game?)

Sorry, Buckeyes.

The Bearcats now have almost two weeks to get ready for what might be their toughest opponent so far this year, a very scrappy USF team that beat Florida State last week.

People Not To Vote For

For anyone who cares about developing the City or the Region, here are people you DO NOT want to vote for. This link is of course the COAST endorsements and it includes Wenstrup for Mayor, which is not a surprise, but on the other hand it only includes two for city council: Monzel and Winburn. That goes to show that signing COAST's pledge is not worth much and likely will cost votes for Ghiz, Murray, Ward and Zamary. All four signed COAST's handcuffing pledge, but get don't get the endorsement because the four are not foolish enough to support COAST's crusade to block any and all Minor or Major passenger rail. I added the minor and major phrase there because that is something new from the COASTers. In the comments along with the Council endorsements they state the following:
Both have taken strong public positions to advance responsible spending, and have pledged not to raise taxes or fees. They also strongly advocate that the people should have a right to vote on any sale of the Water Works, or major passenger rail purchase.
Once again COAST is misleading people as to what issue 9 states and its impact if passed. Let's recap the language once again:
Shall the Charter of the City of Cincinnati be amended to prohibit the city, and its various boards and commissions, from spending any monies for right-of-way acquisition or construction of improvements for passenger rail transportation (e.g. a trolley or streetcar) within the city limits without first submitting the question of approval of such expenditure to a vote of the electorate of the city and receiving a majority affirmative vote for the same, by enacting new Article XIV? YES NO
The important thing to know, is that issue 9 covers "spending any monies" which includes purchases, maintenance, signs, salaries, or anything. This is about spending money, not just new purchases. It also just says "passenger rail transportation" and mentions nothing about "major," so it covers the Zoo Train, no matter what COAST says to try and mislead you.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Popopolis Tonight and Tomorrow

I hate how there's never anything to do on a Friday night in Cincinnati.

In case Midpoint didn't satisfy your musical needs for the rest of the year, Fountain Square is hosting Popopolis tonight and tomorrow. Apparently, Popopolis was originally an annual event at Southgate house in the late 90's and early 00's. (Really? Cincinnati has taken an event from Newport?)

The highlights (at least by my taste): Clabbergirl tonight, and the Seedy Seeds, Wussy, the Pomegranates, and Bad Veins tomorrow.

It's not as cold as you think it is. Go check it out!

The official after-party is at the Righteous Room, but I'd suggest you might want to check out Dirty Mary's (Hamburger Mary's bar), which is having its "soft opening" tonight.

(Hat tip: UrbanCincy.)

City Council: What Could Be vs. What (Probably) Will Be

I've been wondering lately: what will City Council look like in 2010? I've got two lists. The first is what might make for an interesting Council. These aren't endorsements or a suggestion of who anyone should vote for or support; instead, it's merely a list of 9 people who would create an interesting working group. The second list is who I think will be on Council next year (certainly not endorsements, either).

The interesting list:

Chris Bortz
Tony Fischer
Kevin Flynn
Greg Harris
Leslie Ghiz
Amy Murray
LaMarque Ward
Bernadette Watson
Wendell Young

My prediction of who will win:

Jeff Berding
Chris Bortz
Laketa Cole
Greg Harris
Leslie Ghiz
Chris Monzel
Roxanne Qualls
Cecil Thomas
Bernadette Watson; Charlie Winburn; Tony Fischer; or Laure Quinlivan (in order of their likelihood of winning the ninth seat)

Anyone care to make a prediction?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

2010 Budget Proposals: Bernadette Watson

Democratic-endorsed Bernadette Watson is the first to reply to my call for budget proposals:

I do not have a specific amount so this may not fit your criteria, but one way the city could save some money (I believe 1-2 million), is to combine Human Resource departments.

The City of Cincinnati currently has an HR division for nearly every city department. Most or all of these HR divisions are providing similar services. The city could combine these into one HR department and save money on materials, manpower and excessive repetition of services.

Calling All Conservatives

I'm hoping, or rather I am expecting that local conservatives will jump on Si Leis's case for allowing this to happen. COAST? Tom Brinkman? Alex Triantafilou? Tea Baggers?