Monday, May 31, 2010

Give Your Opinion on the Taste of Cincinnati

Organizers of the Taste of Cincinnati are seeking opinions on this year's event from those who have attended. Chime in and voice your views on what works and what doesn't.

UPDATE: Link Fixed, I hope!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

CincyFringe: The Buzz on What to See

I am always asked by friends and even random strangers, what should I see at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  My first answer is EVERYTHING.  I get a blank stare and tell I am going to see all 29 shows and 1 special performance.  That gets another blank stare, followed by a comment along the lines of  "Wow, that's kind of crazy."  When I get past that I offer up some shows I've heard some buzz about.  Below is the list of shows I would suggest everyone plan on seeing.  These are not going to be the best shows of the festival.  These are the shows that are either from groups that I've see before and like the synopsis of their show, or these are shows people have mentioned they've heard good things about.  If will be leaving out a bunch of good shows that people will rave about.  That happens every year at Fringe, you will be surprised by at least one show, if not ten.

These are not in any significant order, other than I hope alphabetical.

A Brief History of Petty Crime
A Short Lecture of a Different Time
Aberrant Reflections on the Barbarism of You & I
Salem! The Musical
Tantric Acting at the Holiday Inn
That One Show
The Council
The Finkle's Theater Show

Knock Three Times

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Time to Make Your CincyFringe Selections

It's time to start selecting the shows you are going to see at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Below is a listing of all of the Productions with a link to's preview article.

A Brief History of Petty Crime
A Night of Well Adjusted Ladies
A Short Lecture of a Different Time
Aberrant Reflections on the Barbarism of You & I
Aftershock! An Event!
Ain't That Good News
Just Say Know
Money Back Guaranteed
Of People and Not Things
Queer in the U.S.A.
Safety In Numbers
Salem! The Musical
Sophie's Dream
Soul Juice
Tantric Acting at the Holiday Inn
That One Show
The Comfort of Anger
The Council
The End Is Near
The Finkle's Theater Show
The Global Lovers
The Long Way Home
The Water Draft
Blue Collar Diaries

Congrats to Liz Vosmeier on Acclaim Award

At Monday night's Acclaim Awards, see Rick Pender's recap here, the Know Theatre's Liz Vosmeier received a special MVP award for her efforts during the 2009-2010 Theatre season. Liz has done a great job this year acting at the Know, but as Rick points out, her work backstage has been crucial to the company's success. This was a well deserved honor.

You can show your support of Liz and the rest of the Know at Fringe. Liz appears in Of People and Not Things.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Volunteer For CincyFringe!!!!

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is an amazing event, but it takes amazing people to put it on. Please volunteer today for the festival and be part of Art in Cincinnati. Check out the Volunteer page where you can see the available shifts. As always you can earn free tickets!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reds Game Sounds Like Fun

Tonight's Reds game commemorates the 75th anniversary of the first night game in professional baseball, which was played at Crosley Field. The Enquirer's Reds Blog posts the Reds' press release here.

Among the highlights: the Reds mascots will actually race around the bases between the third and fourth innings. (Usually, the race is only a virtual one via graphics on the scoreboard.)

Given that the Pirates are in town, though, the mascots would do well to stay away from the visiting team's dugout.

Support for Street Car Has Increased Since 2009

The Mayor's Office issued an interesting press release last night, where they point out that the Enquirer commissioned poll has one overlooked result: support for the Streetcar has risen since the last time a poll on the streetcar was completed. The details from the press release:
Truth about the Enquirer Poll: Streetcar Gains Popularity
Streetcar is more popular today than it was a year ago

“The successful streetcar projects in cities around the country were met with public opposition before construction, and once they were built, neighborhoods fought to get the streetcar line to come to their area,” Mayor Mark Mallory said. “We were told to expect this. However, the fact remains that the Streetcar project is going to be of financial benefit to Cincinnati.”

Quick facts about poll in the Cincinnati Enquirer today:
Streetcar popularity:
  • 44% of poll respondents are in favor of building the Cincinnati Streetcar.
  • “24% say the streetcar would "revitalize Cincinnati's core;" 20% say it is a "risky project," but should still be built in order to help improve the city.” From Cincinnati Enquirer Politics Blog. 
  • 48% oppose building the Streetcar.
  • 7% remain undecided.

Some things to think about:
  • A similar poll was conducted in April 2009 in advance of the Issue 9 campaign.
    In that poll, 59% were opposed to moving ahead with the Streetcar and 38% were in favor of moving forward.
  • In today’s Enquirer poll, those opposed have dropped by 11% from 59% to 48%, and those in favor have increased by 6% from 38% to 44%.
  • That is a 17% change since last year.
  • Today’s poll shows that the Streetcar is much more popular today than it was a year ago and is in fact gaining momentum.
  • 44% is a tremendously high level of support for a project that is not even fully funded yet (the City is awaiting word of significant federal grants).
Please refer to the actual crosstabs located at the Cincinnati Enquirer Politics Blog
This does not mean the poll is not flawed. I would like to know the zip code breakdown of those polled. It also of course doesn't account for the Cell Phone problem, but even taking both of those of those flaws, not everything is bad.

New Blog From the Enquirer: Opinionati

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a new opinion blog running and call it "Opinionati." The blog seems to be from the Editorial Page Team, but focuses on what blogs and social media commentary is out and about about all sorts of topics. It's attempting to be a bit of a panoptic blog about the hot topics of commentary around the city. Leaving out local Talk radio is a plus, since WLW sucks for valuable opinion, but that leaves out what the extreme right-wingers are talking about.

It's funny how basically there are no local Conservative bloggers who cover mainly local issues and politics. (Beyond activists or candidates of course) Why is that?

At CincyFringe Speed Is Sometimes the Key to Success

But, not always.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Streetcar Poll Raises Questions (Mainly About the Enquirer)

Today's Enquirer releases poll results purporting to measure City residents' views on the streetcar. The article raises two questions: one about the Enquirer, and one about City voters. (Note: I am assuming, for the purposes of this post, that the instrument is valid and there were no sampling errors.)

1. Why is this article so intentionally misleading? The article, which sat on the front page of the online Enquirer most of today, begins:
Residents of Cincinnati overwhelmingly oppose the proposed $128 million streetcar project, objecting 2-to-1 to City Hall's plan to borrow tens of millions of dollars for a plan widely viewed as a waste of taxpayer money, an Enquirer poll shows.

But a look at the cross-tabs for the poll--linked in the Enquirer's blog, but not the article itself--tells a different story. 48% of those surveyed said that the streetcar is a "waste of taxpayer money." 24% said that it "will help revitalize Cincinnati's core," and another 20% said it's a "risky project but one that should proceed anyway to help Cincinnati."

In other words, in a poll with a margin of error of 4.1%, those opposed to the streetcar outnumber those in favor by just 48% to 44%. Another 7% are unsure.

So where does this business about opposition by a 2-1 margin come from? It turns out it's in the funding mechanism. Respondents were asked, "To pay for the construction of the streetcar line, the city will borrow $64 million. Do you approve? Or disapprove?" That yielded 61% disapproving with 31% approving.

While I don't have the expertise to question instrument validity, I have to wonder if the result would have been different if those surveyed were asked if they approved or disapproved of the city "issuing $64 million in bonds," rather than "borrowing." The composition of survey questions makes an enormous difference. "Borrowing" by the government is perceived quite negatively right now, and is associated with the national debt and deficit. I'm not sure that the issuance of bonds has quite the same connotations to people, though.

In the last few minutes, another article has been posted, and this one finally notes that the number of those who support and those who oppose the streetcar are pretty even. Of course, even that one is headlined 'Poll buoys streetcar foes."

So the question is: why is the Enquirer's editorial view--that the streetcar is bad--so transparently shaping its "news" coverage? I don't have a problem with the Enquirer commissioning a poll and publishing the results, but why not report the results fairly--at least when putting the results in the news section? Randy Simes offers an answer and a proposal to boycott the Enquirer. I don't know that I agree with him on either of these, but his post is worth reading.

2. What does this say about Cincinnati's voters? Assuming (for the sake of argument) the validity of the instrument, the tepid support for the streetcar (a nearly 50-50 split) is a bit surprising. This past November, City voters elected a Council majority that favors the streetcars and re-elected a mayor who has made the streetcar the primary and central piece of his agenda. So why the disconnect between candidates' stances on issues and the poll results? Are elections really about nothing but personality? Are our voters really so disconnected as to be unaware of their candidates' positions? I don't know.

Still Recovering From The Event

Today I didn't get up as early as I did yesterday. My energy drain and lack of youthfulness met in the alley behind the CAC last night. It was a blast. I can say that I really am in tune with Shepard Fairey's musical taste. My age shows when I say that, but it is true. I love the Clash and so does Fairery. When he's mouthing the words to "The Guns of Brixton," oh yeah, I can relate:
When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun?

Lori Kurtzman of the Enquirer sums up the party fairly well down to the Rumpke pool. It was odd weeding your way through the crowd and at times running into people in their bathing suits soaking wet. Word in the alley was that the daughter of a local politician went for a swim. No one's going to confirm that. One thing I will have to do is introduce Lori Kurtzman to "Duckie." I think I know the person she was talking about. As far as I know, Lori did not go for a swim, but who knows what happened after I left.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

OTR/Gateway Summer Celebration TODAY!

The celebration of Summer starts today May 22nd in Over-the-Rhine's Gateway Quarter. Starting at 10AM with the Go/OTR 5K Race and continuing all day until 7PM with beer, food, arts, crafts, music and fun. For more information check out OTR Gateway's website or hit up the Facebook Event Page.

The music schedule is as follows (as I hear the sound system being checked):
12:00 - 12:50 Baoku Moses & The Image Afro Beat Band
1:15 - 2:00 Messerly & Ewing
2:20 - 3:00 Zumba
3:25 - 4:10 The Kiss Me Everlasting
4:30 - 5:15 Daughters & Sons
5:35 - 6:36 Brian Olive

Latest on the Phony Coney

Mr. Maoglone at the Cincinnati Man has latest take in comments on the State of the Phony Coney, a great blog that appears to be gone.

Friday, May 21, 2010

HCDP Chairmanship Debate Tonight

Who is going to be the next Party Chair for the Hamilton County Democratic Party? The public has a chance tonight to hear both of candidates speak. If you have upset with the way the Democratic Party has been run in the county, which has been poor inspire of the success in 2008, then now is the time to pay attention. The details:
Tim Burke, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman, and challenger, Darren Tolliver treasurer for the Hamilton County Democratic Party will participate in a spirited Debate at Greenwich Tavern, tonight, located at 2440 Gilbert Avenue, Cincinnati Ohio 45202, at 7:25 PM. 

Sha-Ron R Wilson, Vice Chair for the Cincinnati Democratic Committee, will be hosting monthly Precinct Executive “Meet & Greets” to bring awareness to the P. E. position and encourage more Hamilton County Democrats to participate in the political process.  Precinct Executive is a powerful position; let us utilize it to its fullest potential. 

The doors open at 6:30 PM.
Do we need a change at the top? We need new blood at the top. We don't need to make deals with the GOP.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Don't Take These Skinheads Bowling

So a group of Skinheads who are all in the Military allegedly beat a homeless man with pipes in Spring Grove Village and this is the first I've heard of this story? The arrests happened last month.

According to the news reports, local residents in Northside gave information that helped catch all of these suspects.

Another story on it is here.

Also according to the story, they man beaten is no longer living on the street.

I found this because of another story of a 'homeless' man being beaten and robbed in Downtown last night.

Why didn't this story get more coverage? Did I just miss it in the Enquirer?

How Long Before the Protests Start?

So, how far away is the nearest full line grocery store from the Kenwood Fresh Fare closing at the end of the month? There is a Trader Joe's near by, but is that an affordable replacement?

I'm waiting for protests...

I presume that I will be waiting for a long time. There must not be any old people living in Kenwood, nor any poor people. Did this store serve Madisonville or Silverton? Are community activists not paying attention? Are they overworked and just not able to help the people of Kenwood? Are they making a judgement about who lives in Kenwood that may or may not be true but would be prejudiced no matter what? Ok, I'll just back to waiting now...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dear 3CDC: Offer a Better Deal

Below, Griff joins 3CDC in urging the Drop Inn Center to make room for the growing gentry class in Over-the-Rhine. While 3CDC's proposal may be the start of a longer conversation, it does not appear to be a viable solution as it is currently structured.

This Enquirer article has some numbers that should be cause for concern about the suggested "restructuring" of the Drop Inn Center. Presently, DIC is a 250-bed facility. The 3CDC proposal would have space for a total of 170 people: 50 women, 60 men, and some sort of transitional facility (for men) with 60 more beds. (There's also a suggestion for a facility for a facility open only to 18 - 24 year old homeless people that I suspect would be quite small.)

So we'd go from 250 emergency beds available in OTR to just 110. I've previously pointed out that during the winter months, DIC's capacity is already insufficient to meet the demand for emergency shelter.

Griff also makes the same mistake as does the linked Enquirer article: linking DIC to concern about sex offenders. Yes, an SCPA student was murdered last year, and yes, it was tragic. And yes, the perpetrator was a convicted sex offender. But he was not a resident of DIC. In fact, the DIC does not permit registered sex offenders to stay in its facility. Washington Park Elementary was a block away from the DIC for years with no problems. And the W.E.B. Dubois Middle School is just a few blocks away. Why are the "concerns" suddenly acute with the opening of SCPA? Because we like those students better for some reason?

Finally, I'll point out that Griff's concerns about loitering in Washington Park are likely to become moot, as the park is slated to be closed--either partially or altogether--for 18 months beginning this fall, if funding for renovations is finalized.

I'm not among those who claim that the Drop Inn Center has some sort of "right" to remain where it is, and that neighborhood development must necessarily happen around it. But it should not be displaced unless and until a reasonable replacement is available. 3CDC needs to go back to the drawing board.

Dear Drop Inn Center, Take the Deal

The Cincinnati Business Courier reported last week that 3CDC has sent a letter to the Board of the Drop Inn Center with an offer to move facility. Full details were not released, but the article reports that it includes 3CDC managing the the move process and helping to get funding for the relocation and ongoing operations.

If the Drop Inn Center does not take this deal, they are fools. When the SCPA opens, the pressure will mount beyond control. Legal action may follow soon after. The problem for the Drop Inn Center rests on two fronts. First they have to deal with sex offenders living at the DIC, which likely would violate the law when the SCPA opens less than a block away.

Second, the DIC would face far more pressure to deal with what happens outside its doors. That would be the congregation of people in the park and on 12th Street using/selling drugs during the day, some then going into the DIC for the night, the rest going else where because the DIC won't take them. This second part is the problem the DIC has refused to deal with since I can remember, they attract criminals. Sure they claim they are not the problem and they do their best to keep it outside the center. That is the problem, if it is outside the center, they do nothing to stop it. If they cops did a sweep of those loitering outside the DIC on 12th Street or in Washington Park, we would hear the DIC and other homeless activist howl in protest.

The DIC has a deal in hand. They can hem and haw and act like peacocks all they want to save face within activist community, but they really need to take the deal. Further more they can't waste much time about it. The school year starts in August.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Happened In Lockland?

It's hard to know what to make of the students involved in the "senior prank" at Lockland High School, since it's not entirely clear what they actually did that night.

Regular readers will recall that last January, I was critical of officials who decided to file criminal charges against students who unplugged engine block heaters for diesel school buses, causing the cancellation of school in Mason. The Lockland students are also being criminally charged (some as adults, as they are 18) and face suspension or expulsion.

Early reports indicated that the students were ransacking the school, throwing books into hallways. When I read that, my thought was, "That's not a prank. That's vandalism." But an article in yesterday's Enquirer suggests that the conduct was much tamer. I can't figure out what the kids intended to do with the rubber bands and cups of water, but the "prank" hardly seems destructive, if that story is accurate.

If this was a non-destructive prank, then we're once again witnessing the results of over-criminalization of bad conduct. A school suspension and school-related discipline is appropriate. It might even be appropriate to disallow the students from participating in graduation ceremonies (but not actually from receiving their diplomas). But a felony record? Really?

Some of the students are charged with resisting arrest and fleeing from police. That's a separate issue. (Separate, that is, if the charges are legitimate--which is not always the case with a resisting charge.) If students really ran from or physically struggled with police, their conduct might have been criminal. Once your prank is exposed and you're caught, you don't start a police pursuit. You have to accept the consequences, even if that means a night in jail before your mom can get you released.

Yesterday's article focuses on an 18 year-old college-bound senior, for whom a felony record would be crippling. If the grand jury indicts her and the other students, I hope the authorities offer them some sort of diversionary disposition--some sort of result that involves acceptance of responsibility and community service, but no criminal conviction. If they stand indicted and aren't offered a way out, we'll find out whether 12 people of Hamilton County are willing to brand an 18 year-old a felon for high school hijinks.

The case raises an interesting contrast to the treatment accorded MU's Pi Beta Phi sorority members who behaved badly in April. According to the Enquirer, police encountered them intoxicated and urinating on the side of the road. That's classic disorderly conduct. But no one was cited; instead, the buses were "escorted" to Lake Lyndsay. And none of the students was charged criminally for their destructive behavior, even though some it certainly constituted criminal damaging. Yes, I realize that different police departments from different counties were involved. But it's fascinating that some people get police escorts to parties after bad behavior, and others get police escorts to the Justice Center.

First Place!!!

Anyone who now tells you that two months ago, they predicted the Reds would be in first place in mid-May--after a three game series with the Cardinals--is lying.

Go Reds!!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Ruminating at Schwartz's Point

When I was a sophomore at the University of Chicago, the guy who lived in the dorm across the hall from me--a freshman--was an amazing blues guitarist. While a lot of people in the dorm knew how good he was (since he spent hours upon hours practicing), few knew how often he was playing off-campus. A friend and I were among the lucky ones who did know, and on several nights we'd follow him to a club, sneak in (since we were under 21), and sit down to enjoy a few beers and some great music.

Two of these clandestine journeys stand out for me. One was to Kingston Mines, where my neighbor was sitting in with Buddy Guy. (When I said he was amazing, I meant it!) I remember that night because it's one of the few times I've ever had my name "on the list" at the entrance to a club, entitling me to bypass the long line of people waiting for a bouncer to grant them entrance. The other was to a much different blues club. I don't remember the name, but it was much deeper into the South Side of Chicago than our safe little Hyde Park hamlet--somewhere around 70th and Ashland.

In the South Side club, we were treated to a great musical performance. Our friend the guitarist wasn't featured; instead, the group was fronted by a female singer who pretty much blew the roof off the joint. I don't think I've ever heard her sing again, but the memory of her voice stays with me nearly twenty years later.

Being young and relatively naive, there were a few things that I didn't think about back then. The singer who fronted that group probably didn't support herself financially with her music. It never occurred to me to wonder about her life outside of that blues club. What did she do for a living? Did she have a family to care for? Also, I thought our guitarist friend just didn't want the somewhat snobby U. Chicago student body to know he was making money by playing the blues (sometimes at clubs in neighborhoods most of our classmates wouldn't venture into on a dare), and that was why he didn't invite more people to hear him play. In hindsight, I realize now the opposite is true: he didn't want ten or twelve Chicago students to follow him to gigs. They'd blow his cover and reveal his "other" identity (a white kid from Connecticut with a much WASPier name than the one under which he performed). He'd have lost his credibility if his audiences (and maybe more importantly, his fellow band members) knew he was a freshman at the University of Chicago.

Last night, I found myself at a table at Schwartz's Point, listening to my friend and fellow attorney Aleshia Fessel (or as I like to call her, Fesselicious) belt out some great jazz standards, backed by legendary pianist Ed Moss. The majority of the people in the small club were Aleshia's friends and family, but there were several there who weren't. As I sat there, I realized that they didn't know any of the "back story": that during the day, Aleshia is a really skilled, passionate criminal defense attorney who devotes a huge portion of her practice to defending the indigent and who probably spends more hours volunteering her time than I manage to be awake during any given week. They didn't know that the table full of appreciative listeners in the corner included Aleshia's husband, mother, and parents-in-law. (I suppose they also didn't know Aleshia was previously the subject of a Cincinnati Blog post.)

What they did know was that for five bucks, they encountered a delightful evening of music. They probably didn't consider what kind of bravery it takes to perform in a venue like that. Aleshia's musical roots are in pop/rock, and performing jazz is a little new for her. (And sometimes, I think, the freedom of jazz's forms is troubling for her Type A personality.) Standing up and singing with nothing but a piano behind your voice (played by an extremely talented, experienced artist who thinks nothing of improvising as it suits him) in a very intimate setting is a feat few would try to tackle, much less pull off with as much verve as Aleshia did.

So last night, I found two things: a different side of my friend, and a great spot to hang out and listen to good music. I'll definitely be back the next time Aleshia takes the stage. And while I've got my own (non-musical) gig on Tuesday nights for the next few weeks, very soon I plan to stop in on a Tuesday: for a $10 cover charge, you get a buffet dinner (with what I hear is really good food) and a night of music by Ed Moss's Society Jazz Orchestra.

Schwartz's Point: it's another one of Cincinnati's under-appreciated treasures, and something of an historical throwback. Stop by soon.

(Yes, I realize the cool bloggers have already written about Schwartz's Point. Once again, I'm late. But better late than never...)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rally Against Domestic Violence

This Monday, May 17, 2010, at 5:00 pm, the Hirsch Recreation Center on Reading Road in Avondale will host a rally against domestic violence. Participants include the Cincinnati Police Department; the YWCA; and Women Helping Women. Also on hand to address those gathered will be Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Nadine Allen.

The event includes refreshments and a raffle for prizes. This is another one of those great community events that probably doesn't happen in the absence of our recreation centers.

Visual Fringe Line-Up Announced!

The Visual Arts portion of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival was announced earlier this week. The exhibit runs at the Childlaw Gallery at the Art Academy of Cincinnati 1212 Jackson Street and runs from June 1-12.

Join in the opening night reception on June 1st as part of the Fringe Kick-Off Party, 6PM to 9PM at the Childlaw Gallery. Afterwards head down a block to the Know Theatre for the Kick-Off of the Performance and Film portions of Fringe.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2011 Council Race Starts Early!

It's a long way before 2011, but for Chris Seelbach his campaign for Cincinnati begins now. The former VP of CincyPAC announced his campaign today and released his website:

Chris is a supporter of OTR and the Streetcar and was a committed leader with the Human Rights Campaign in Cincinnati in its successful effort to repeal Article XII.

I look forward to seeing how his campaign unfolds. I hope he seeks out a Democratic endorsement, but if he can build a big network and ride it into the early summer of 2011, he may have a chance at winning in his first council election, even without the endorsement.

Calgon, Take Me Away!!!

Kevin Osborne reports that Chris Seelbach will seek a place on City Council in 2011. (Other links: campaign website; KRM; logo design contest.)

From everything I know about and have heard about Chris, I strongly suspect he'll be one of the candidates I support next year. That's not to say I agree with him about everything: while I think he has excellent ideas regarding zoning reform, I'm concerned that he undervalues the role of the police in public safety.

Having said that, though, my immediate reaction was not "What can I do to help Seelbach win in 2011?" Instead it is: Really? We now have an eighteen-month campaign cycle for City Council? I can't handle this!

We already bemoan the nearly perpetual campaign cycle for offices like the President of the United States. Do we really want that for local elections, too? Doesn't there have to be time to govern?

Of course, the thought also crosses my mind that Seelbach is trying to position himself for the seat Laketa Cole will soon vacate....

Unified Local Theater Awards?

Rick Pender, Theatre Editor/Critic at CityBeat, has written a blog post discussing the concept of a unified Theatre awards program. The two groups to be unified would be CityBeat's Theatre CEA's and the Enquirer supported Acclaim Awards.

Each of the two programs are very different and use very different philosophies. The CEA's are a more traditional awards program where the categories and rules are better defined and understood by all. The Acclaims are determined by a small group of "Acclaimers" who see the various shows during the season. The rules and categories seem to change with the tides.

I think the CEA's work great. They are fair, and except for the public voting popularity contest that plagues all of CityBeat's awards, it awards the most deserving shows and individuals.

The Acclaims don't work as fairly. It largely falls on the whims of a few people, often just one. The Acclaims add too much personal taste for a show and far too often overlooks great work because those seeing a show don't like the type of play they are seeing, ignoring or penalizing the actors or directors or stage crew for the choice of the producers to put on that particular play.

All of that being said, both are fun events. I myself like having two. I like the competition. I think the more awards the better. We have the Oscars (CEA's) and we have the Golden Globes (Acclaim), and I think that works. Both could use some refining, but I would want to keep both going.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some Food News: Josh Campbell and Molly Wellmann, Together Again

For those of you who are, like me, fans of Josh Campbell (the chef/proprietor of Mayberry and the World Food Bar), there are a couple of exciting events coming up.

On June 11, 2010, Josh once again join forces with Molly Wellmann (my review of an earlier joint venture featuring those two is here) for a Caribbean-themed dinner at the Boost meeting space on Reading Road. (I'm not sure if this spot counts as downtown or Pendleton.) On the menu: "funky island fare" from Josh and "classic tiki bar drinks" from Molly. There will also be a DJ. Apparently, the Boost venue is fairly impressive. The roof will be open (weather permitting), and food will be served downstairs. Tickets are $50 each (I think beer may be included in that price, though Molly's drinks are extra--and well worth it!); for reservations, call Mayberry at 381-5999.

And this Monday, May 17, at 6:30, Josh will be serving up a "Taste of Mayberry" at the Party Source in Newport. This is a demonstration class, so you'll be able to see Josh in action. The food includes pepper bacon-wrapped figs (you had me at bacon), grilled hanger steak, and banana cream pie. The cost is $60 (which includes some wine, I think), but Party Source has a 2-for-1 special (so it's essentially dinner for two for sixty bucks).

Both events sound great; I'll be at one or both, and hope to run into some of you there.

Miami University: Is Anyone Really Surprised?

This is the post that may finally get me kicked off the blog.

Today comes word that the Miami chapter of Alpha Xi Delta may be suspended for bad behavior at an off-campus party. Earlier this week, the university announced the suspension of Pi Beta Phi for similarly drunken and boorish behavior.

And all of this comes on the heels of revelations that MU's most famous alumnus, Ben Roethlisberger, behaves like an entitled, inebriated frat boy on such a regular basis that some have begun to suggest that brain damage is to blame.

In a letter regarding the most recent sorority incident, MU President David Hodge writes that "the actions of these students are contrary to the values of Miami University." My question: how many people agree with him?

Most people who didn't attend MU perceive it as a place for spoiled rich kids who, not having the grades or connections to get into a better school, have found a quiet corner of Ohio in which to drink away their parents' money. MU students have set fires to so many couches that Oxford has a law banning anyone from having upholstered furniture on a porch. MU students, so disappointed that the scheduling of spring break would deprive them of the communal drinking opportunity posed by St. Patrick's Day, created Green Beer Day, devoted to nothing but drunken revelry.

President Hodge seems to fear that the recent bad conduct of two MU sororities will give the university a bad reputation. He's wrong. Stories about drunken, misbehaved MU students don't alter people's feelings towards MU; they reinforce them. And that's the real problem that Hodge must face, if he's serious about protecting the "values of Miami University."

UPDATE: Deadspin has more details on the Pi Beta Phi misbehavior. (Hat tip: Scott Sloan.)

Good Compromise for Streetcar Bonds

I'm still lukewarm (at best) about the notion of a streetcar. Lots of smart people who I respect say it will spur investment and development. So maybe my doubts aren't reasonable. (But please, folks, quit telling me about Portland. I don't have any reason to believe that city is analogous to Cincinnati. I'm much more interested in the streetcar experiences of places like Kenosha.)

But if our policymakers are going to move forward with the streetcar, I think they've done so in a responsible, measured way. Today, Council approved the issuance of $64 million in bonds, but removed the "emergency" clause from the authorizing legislation. That means the ordinance isn't effective for 90 days, by which time the City will almost certainly know whether federal help is coming our way. If not, Council can rescind the ordinance before the bonds issue.

One other question: the price that's been quoted is a few years old now. Given increases in steel prices, is it still any good? Isn't this project's cost going up by the minute?

Arnold's Is Going Topless

On May 19th at 8PM, Arnold's Bar & Grille is going topless.  Yes, they have an attractive staff, but this goes beyond that.  It goes all the way to their courtyard, where Arnold's will take the top off and open it up to the sky for the Summer.

A new local Brewery, Rivertown Brewery,  is joining the celebration by making Arnold's the first Downtown bar to carry their beers. Blues artist John Redell will play from 8PM to 10PM, but the party goes on until closing with all Rivertown beers only $3.

Sorry if you wanted more, but it just ain't happening.

A Heartwarming and Stomach Filling Story

Sean Rhiney from Soapbox has a very touching story about a new OTR business, ForkHeartKnife Kitchen.
They are on Twitter now too! @forkheartknife

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Is This a News Story?

Why is the Enquirer spend the time on this article about a shoplifting case, valued at $185, that happened way back on April 27th?

Am I missing the importance?

They even have a photo of the suspects.

Since the thieves allegedly stole FIVE containers of KY lubricant, I can only assume the couple has been too busy since April 27th to be caught.

UPDATE: I just say a TV commercial for that exact brand of KY.  Why would they name the product in the first place?  Is this really a paid advertisement disguised a news story?

Is the Enquirer Biased or Looking for Controversy?

I know, most are going to answer the title's question "Is Enquirer Biased or Looking for Controversy?" with a "Both" answer. The Provost at of The Phony Coney questions the timing of the Enquirer's coverage of the Bortz-Streecar Voting "controversy" as being, shall we say, ill-timed.

Yes, it is rather obvious that someone has been pushing the story to the Enquirer and the rest of the media around town. I don't know if I believe there is a full borne effort to disrupt the Streetcar project in the newsroom of the Enquirer. There may be individuals who oppose it, but the reporters are getting marching orders.

I do believe without a doubt that there is a desire for scandal, something media outlets nearly universally are guilty of doing, and doing without care in appearances or importance.  I believe that desire isn't just in the editors' minds, it in this case is in the reporter's mind.

The only scandal with Bortz is in appearance. He made a public relations error in how he responded to the ethics letter. He didn't tell everything. That's his sin. The local media feels like he lied to them. They are pissed. Furthermore, where there's a lie, there's a scandal, so no matter the circumstances. Bortz and the Streetcar in association are going to get punched by the Enquirer. They will punch with same sin Bortz committed, the sin of omission.

So, the Enquirer is trying to sell newspapers and isn't doing or at least isn't publishing that is has done it's homework. That is bad journalism. It is good business. It brings more eyes to paper.

More evidence that I think sums up the problem comes in their editorial:
The streetcar may be a real step forward for Cincinnati. We don't oppose it. But we object to the way it has - or hasn't - been planned, explained and justified. So far, city leaders have been asking Cincinnatians to support a pig in a poke.

Again: Where's the plan?
Saying you don't oppose something you do nothing to support is as much dancing on the head of a pin one editorial can offer. If the Enquirer supports the Streetcar, then why are they giving people like Tom Luken and Chris Smitherman credibility when they oppose it with no fact or substitute plan for the development it would spawn? Neither person has any credibility, yet they are driving the Story. They are the opposition to the project, so they get the same level, and often a much, much bigger level, of a voice in the debate than the supports of the Streetcar.

When other issues are pushed by Enquirer, I rarely see opponents getting the same credibility as Luken and Smitherman are getting.  Those other opponents never drive the story. Anti-war protesters didn't get the credibility. People commenting on the death of a Notre Dame football recruit are cut off, not allowed to do anything to drive the story. These groups have limited voice and limited chance to influence the story, but Luken and Smitherman get quoted at will and on topics they know nothing about.

We don't need a manufactured controversy. The Enquirer has been the primary maker of that controversy surrounding Bortz and it is a bias they have, a bias for profit.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Casablanca and a Burger

A late Spring Sunday evening is a great night to get out of the condo and join your community in watching one of the best movies ever made. The details:
WHO: Venue 222

WHAT: There’s nothing better than a neighborhood party at Venue 222, Cincinnati’s premier urban event space. Join us with a showing of ‘Casablanca’ one of the most popular romantic dramas of all time. Food for purchase available from CafĂ© de Wheels, Cincinnati’s first mobile food truck. BYOBB – Bring Your Own Blanket & Booze.

Casablanca was premiered in 1942, with such stars as Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman – the film has been lauded for its inclusion of all types of stereotypes in popular culture.

This event is free and open to the public.

WHEN: Sunday May 16, 2010 from 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m..

WHERE: 222 E. 14th Street, Cincinnati OH 45202.
Sounds like the perfect date night too. Any ladies want to go?

First They Came for the Mexicans . . .

It's time to get concerned about the very visible anti-Mexican (and probably anti-Hispanic) bigotry taking hold in certain parts of the country.

First, we have the "papers, please" law recently passed in Arizona. Defenders of the law tell us that the only burden will be on illegal immigrants. They ignore the new power police are given to ask anyone who "looks illegal" for proof of citizenship. Everything in the statute is based on the state criminalizing the status of an illegal immigrant. Under the Constitution (which applies both to citizens and non-citizens), a law enforcement officer has to have "reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot" to detain someone and ask questions. (Google "Terry stop" for more on this.)

How can an officer tell the difference between a Mexican-American citizen and an undocumented Mexican national? He can't, of course. So in Arizona, just being Hispanic (or probably non-white) gives an officer reason to detain someone long enough to ask questions. Terrific.

Next, we have the California kids sent home for wearing American flags on Cinco de Mayo. Many are treating this as an incident that is only about the free speech rights of the white students involved. (And I agree, their rights were violated; they should not have been sent home.) But what's being glossed over is the intent behind their "patriotic" display that day. Those students weren't just being patriotic. They were telling their Mexican-American classmates that the celebration of their heritage wasn't acceptable. They were making the Mexican-Americans aware of their otherness, showing them that they weren't quite Americans in the same way the flag-wearers are.

How do I know what the students intended, you ask? Simple. Because I never hear of students wearing American flags or "patriotic" colors on St. Patrick's Day. It's acceptable for people to wear green, display shamrocks, and celebrate their Irish heritage on that day. (I've also never seen any negative reaction to all of the black, red, and gold downtown during Oktoberfest.) Irish-Americans are OK. Mexican-Americans? Not so much. Ironic, given the history of discrimination against Irish-Americans.

The Butler County sheriff wants to bring a "papers, please" law to Ohio. In my criminal defense practice over the past six to twelve months, I've seen a growing hostility towards Hispanics. I hope that Ohioans prove that they're better than this.

In times of economic crisis, people often turn to scapegoating. That seems to be happening now in the U.S. Let's recognize it for what it is and end it. Now.

New Store Coming to the Gateway Quarter

A new clothing store is coming to the Gateway Quarter and if the father of one of the owners is correct, it could be open as soon as in a few weeks. The store would take over 16 East 12th Street, the location that up until last month housed Outside, the store run by Terry Lee.

It was very sad to see Terry's store close, but it is a great sign to see the location turning over so quickly. On Sunday a crew was painting the space which is in great shape. I hope they are able to hold at least a soft opening on May 22nd when a great crowd will attend the OTR/Gateway Summer Celebration.

I was not able to get the name of the store or find any marketing information, so if anyone has more information, chime in.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Fireworks Are Quieter

First, let me express (cautious) excitement about the Reds. They're currently a game above .500, in second place, and just three games behind the Cardinals. Mike Leake is a lot of fun to watch, despite a tough seventh inning tonight.

Now, let me move on to something that's ridiculously trivial, but that has been bothering me anyhow. I've made no secret of where I live: in an apartment building on Fourth Street between Plum and Central. My apartment is in the back of the building, facing the Duke Energy Convention Center.

In past seasons, I could "follow" the Reds in my apartment even without having the game on the radio or the television. If I heard fireworks, I'd flip the TV channel to FSN to see who just hit a home run. If I heard fireworks late enough in the evening, I'd know the Reds had just won. The sound was quite audible, and echoed off the buildings behind my building.

But this year, things are different. I can no longer hear fireworks from GABP. I was wondering if perhaps the Reds were using quieter fireworks, but when I attended a game for the first time this season (the eleven-inning thriller this past Monday), I thought the fireworks were as loud as ever.

My new theory: the Great American Tower is absorbing or deflecting the fireworks noise so that it no longer reaches the western end of downtown.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

And by the way, my previous concern that the Tower could impact games by causing right fielders to drop balls during day games has proven unfounded, as the building doesn't seem shiny enough to create a glare.

The $64 Million Question

Today's Enquirer has a "First in Print" story on the decision facing City Council this week: whether to approve the issuance of $64 million in bonds in the hope that this will be sufficient to attract federal funding for the streetcar. There's apparently some division amongst the streetcar supporters on Council, with some wanting to unconditionally approve the bonds, and others (Berding and Bortz) apparently wanting to hedge the City's bet, conditioning bond issuance on the receipt of federal money.

Mayor Mallory has said that the Council should unconditionally approve the bonds, and insists that the bonds wouldn't be issued by the administration until after the federal dollars come in, anyhow. Of course, under our present system of government, this isn't actually the mayor's decision; the City Manager would be solely responsible for the bond issuance once it's approved by the Council. I believe I've heard Milton Dohoney say that the bonds would wait until after federal financing is in place, but I can't find a link to that right now.

An interesting situation is presented. Mayor Mallory has put this on Council's agenda this week because recently, federal officials have told the City that it needs to have "skin in the game" to get federal money. The thought now is that approving the bonds will be enough, and that next month, the feds will reward the City in its next round of TIGER grants. Of course, the feds make it clear that local financing is no guarantee of federal money, but merely a necessary precondition of it.

So here's the question for streetcar supporters: what if Council unconditionally approves the bonds, and next month, the City again gets passed over? And what if a federal official says that merely approving the bonds isn't enough, that the City needs to actually issue them for the feds to know we're serious? Once again, the feds make no guarantees, just tell us we improve our chances if we issue the bonds. Under those circumstances, should the City place a $64 million bet on federal funds becoming available?

And what if we lose the bet?

Friday, May 07, 2010

New Rendering of Casino Out

A new image of the Casino slated to be opened at Broadway Commons in 2012 has been released. It is an interesting rendering of the building, but this image doesn't appear to show how this building would look with the rest the Downtown backdrop. That's a very important factor. The building needs to fit in with the buildings on an aesthetic level. We can't have a crappy box of drywall as the welcome sign to Downtown at the I-71 entrance.

More on the details of the building is here in the Enquirer.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Friday Night: Click @ CAM

If you are looking for a cool event for a hot May night, put your eyes on Click*, 8PM to 11PM at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Entertainment includes the amazing indie-electronica sounds of You, You're Awesome.

Tickets are $20 before the show, or $30 at the door. So buy your's today!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

In Memoriam: Donald Spencer

I just wanted to note my sadness at the passing of Donald Spencer. Mr. Spencer and his wife, Marian, are best described as civil rights icons in Cincinnati. I feel extraordinarily privileged that early in my career, my practice led me to briefly cross paths with the Spencers.

For decades, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer were the civil rights movement in Cincinnati. It's impossible to overstate the importance of their service both to the cause of justice and our community. And in person, Mr. and Mrs. Spencer are the warmest, most caring people you could meet.

My thoughts and prayers are with the Spencer family today. And I hope that today's sad news will cause us all to reflect both on how far we've come in the past half-century, but also on how far we have left to journey.

It's very few people about whom one can say the following: Cincinnati is a better place because Donald and Marian Spencer have spent their lives here.

A Little On The Election

I'm pretending to be a lawyer again today, so I haven't had a chance to go through the canvass report to drill deeply into the numbers. There is one race, though, that I think is worth mentioning: the contest for the Republican nomination for State Representative in the 28th District.

The current office-holder is Democrat Connie Pillich, who was unopposed in her primary. The GOP primary featured four candidates. The winner was Mike Wilson, founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party. Not only did Mike won, but he did so handily, pulling in 44% of the vote and trouncing the "establishment Republicans" who were running.

The significance of this win should not be under-appreciated. The Tea Party has now proven that--at least in a relatively small race (geographically speaking)--it can mobilize its members, get out the vote, and win an election. Overall turnout in the district was low--about 12 percent of Republican voters turned out--but nonetheless, this is an extremely important development in local politics, and one that we should keep an eye on.


And: can we get some UN monitors up to Butler County to monitor their Board of Elections? Every year, it's something new with them.

Election Recap

After a Late Night, here are important results of last night's Election:

Issue #1 Cruised to victory 68% to 32%

Jim Tarbell won the Democratic Nom in the end by a comfortable level: 46%-40%-14% (Tarbell-Thomas-Brown).

Chris Monzel rallied his newly adopted suburbanite neighbors to handily defeat Leslie Ghiz (56.5%-45.5%).

The biggest news and I would call it the surprise of the night: Surya Yalamanchili won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd Congressional District over David Krikorian (40%-38%-21%).

I hope all of the candidates and campaign teams can take a short breather, but then the winners can get back to work.

The race for Hamilton County Commissioner is going to be a good one, but the choice is going to be clear: Vote Tarbell.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tarbell Wins!!!

With 94% of the votes in, Cincinnati Blog is declaring Jim Tarbell the winner!

Election Night Blogging

UPDATE #2: We are on pins and needles but the news is good:
Tarbell 10,520
Thomas 10,240
Brown 3,036

UPDATE #1: Absentee Report for the Dems:
Tarbell: 4,352
Thomas: 4,215
Brown: 1,057

So, I'm about to head down to Arnold's for the Jim Tarbell event and will be setting up shop for the evening. I plan on sitting, eating, drinking, listening, and do some limited blogging from my iPhone. If you want the official results, check out the Hamilton County BOE for the canvass report. If I hear things I can report, I will try to update this post.

Krikorian Has a Future With Amway

No matter what happens today in his primary race for the 2nd Congressional District's Democratic Primary David Krikorian has proven himself worthy of job with Amway by adopting Amway's alleged corporate philosophy.

If you want to know more about what I'm talking about, try Snopes.

When I get to reference Amway (now called Alticor) and I get to link to, you can pretty much consider yourself to be tainted. Krikorian may win today's primary, but his chances of ever winning any public office are slim.

Polls Are Open! Get Out and Vote!

The polls in Ohio are open until 7:30. If you don't know where to vote, then click here to find out if you live in Hamilton County. A few points to know.
  • If you voted last year in November and have not moved, you are still registered to vote. 
  • If you have never voted in a primary for a particular party, you can ask for a particular party's ballot, which will allow you to vote for the primary races of that party. 
  • You can still vote for just the Issues, but getting an issues only ballot.
Bring ID to vote. Here is what is acceptable:
  1. Current and valid Ohio driver’s license; or
  2. Current and valid photo identification card issued by the State of Ohio or the United States government; or
  3. A military identification (“military ID”); or
  4. An original or copy of a current utility bill; or
  5. An original or copy of a current bank statement; or
  6. An original or copy of a current paycheck; or
  7. An original or copy of a current government check; or
  8. An original or copy of a current other government document.
    For more overall questions, check out the Secretary of State's website FAQ.

    Monday, May 03, 2010

    Primary Predictions?

    Who is going to win in the Primaries tomorrow?

    For the Democrats:
    I would guess Fisher will win for Senate.
    I believe Tarbell will win for County Commission.

    For the GOP:
    I am going to say Monzel will squeak it out over Ghiz, but I think it will be a close race.

    Did Thomas Infer Kroger's Actions Were Racist?

    The Enquirer's Jane Prendergast has a blog post today updating last week's Council Committee meeting where representatives from the Kroger Company answered questions about their
    closing of the Roselawn Kroger.  Here is the quote she includes from Cecil Thomas that prompted the Jeff Berding's comment claiming Thomas was inferring Kroger's actions were racist:
    Thomas said, “Maybe I’ll be a little more specific…There is a perception that you’re moving out of the black neighborhoods, the predominantly African-American communities in the inner city. That’s a perception that’s out…that is a reality, I should say, that’s there.”
    I would say Thomas's comments were over the top and designed to be confrontational, but don't amount to what Berding is charging.

    One Other Thing To Watch Tomorrow

    I suspect this blog's readers will be following a couple of races particularly closely: the HamCo Commission races and the Dem primaries for governor and OH-02. But the "under-card" is particularly rife with drama this year, and warrants some attention.

    As the Enquirer reported a few weeks ago, during the primary, voters will choose the membership of both parties' central committees, on both the county and state level. The Tea Party* has fielded candidates of its own, mainly for the GOP committees.

    The Cincinnati Tea Party seems to be figuring out that the GOP isn't as welcoming to Tea Partiers as the GOP's public pronouncement would lead one to believe. Kevin DeWine and Alex Triantafilou both publicly say that they're happy to see the Tea Party involved in Republican politics. But behind the scenes, both are trying to limit the influence the Tea Party will have on the GOP. The linked post details those efforts on the state level. But those efforts are occurring on the county level, too.

    Take a look at tomorrow's ballot (scroll down to page 27). There are a lot of Republicans running for county central committee spots for the first time. Some are Tea Partiers. But a lot more of them are "establishment" Republicans. Many are employed in public service with elected Republicans as their supervisors.

    There's clearly an internal struggle going on within the GOP. While they don't want the Tea Party running its own candidates (the best thing that could happen for the Democratic Party, on either a state, local, or national level, would be Tea Party candidates; think Ross Perot), but GOP leaders clearly fear that if the Tea Party has too much of a voice in the GOP's governing committees, current leaders (e.g., party chairs) could lose their positions to newcomers elected by the Tea Party. The establishment GOP/Tea Party rift even became publicly evident at the Mainstay debate the other night, with some harsh words by Chris Monzel for a prominent Democrat and a Tea Partier in the same sentence--though Monzel didn't point out the party affiliation of either person he mentioned. (Apparently, now that Monzel has received the Ohio Tea Party PAC's endorsement, he feels he no longer has any reason to be nice to Tea Party's members.)

    The election of the county Democratic central committee is not without drama, either. As we've previously noted (via Howard Wilkinson), Darren Tolliver is challenging Tim Burke for the local party chairmanship. Tolliver is presently the treasurer of the HCDP and was a board member of CincyPAC. The central committee, elected tomorrow, will vote on the chairmanship in the next several weeks. I have no idea whether Tolliver will have the votes, but a wrestling match for the party's gavel hasn't happened around here in quite some time.

    So while there are interesting races near the top of the ticket, don't forget to watch the "smaller" races, too. As Tip O'Neill famously quipped, "All politics is local," after all.

    *Griff: Come on, man, time to start calling it the Tea Party and its members the Tea Partiers. (Yes, "teabaggers" was a term that its original members used first, without realizing the word's other meaning. But everyone knows the euphemism now.) Even if we disagree with them, they deserve at least to be called by the name they choose. A while back, I called out Alex Triantafilou for using "Democrat" rather than "Democratic" as an adjective. I'm more than a bit hypocritical if I don't call out Griff, too.

    More Clear Evidence the Cadillac Ranch Sucks

    Liz of the getinmybelly blog has provided a overwelhming documentation that the Cadillac Ranch is an absolutely horrid establishment.

    I most readers know the treatment "the ranch" gave to MidPoint Artists last year, but Liz has shown how poorly they treat paying customers.

    Questions About Ethics

    I find the character assignation of Chris Bortz to be very unfair, but I'm going to sidestep the details of the infamous letter and instead make a few points that are not going to be asked by the the less than honest anti-streetcar foes pushing this issue, nor will it be asked by the Enquirer.
    1. Since Chris Bortz owns part of Jeff Ruby's located at 7th and Walnut, if a vote were to come up in Council to fund the re-pavement of 7th Street between Central and Broadway, then should he recuse himself from that vote?
    2. Why are Tom Luken, Chris Smitherman, and bandwagoner Justin Jeffre not complaining about the votes Chris Bortz made to fund 3CDC's effort to redevelop downtown, including rehabbing the Metropole, which will clearly benefit the near by Jeff Ruby Steadhouse?
    3. Have any of the votes for the funding of the streetcar ever specifically defined in the ordinances the actual route of the Streetcar? I mean literally the route where Luken et al claim it will go near properties owned or operated by Towne Properties?
    4. If Chris Monzel where to be elected to County Commission(heaven forbid), would he be required to recuse himself when approving anything that improves or maintains any road around GE?
    I never would expect Tom Luken to ask these questions, he's not concerned with truth. Cherry picking issues is his method of choice. I would however like a longer form story from the Enquirer covering what the ethics laws actually say and what each elected official should do to comply with them.

    Sunday, May 02, 2010

    I Thought Chris Bortz Was Smarter Than This.....

    You all know about the kerfuffle surrounding Councilmember Chris Bortz's decision to ignore advice from the Ohio Ethics Commission to abstain from votes regarding the streetcar. I have no opinion regarding whether a conflict of interest actually exists. From what I've read, there are cogent arguments on both sides.

    (Interestingly, the same streetcar opponents who claim that the streetcar will not spur economic development or prosperity claim that Bortz operates under a conflict because the streetcar will spur economic development and prosperity. But that's probably another post.)

    But I do have a strong opinion that Chris Bortz is in need of an IQ- or drug-test. How could he be so short-sighted, particularly regarding an issue that he believes is so vital to the city? Two questions are raised:

    1. Why ask for an OEC opinion if you're going to ignore it if you don't get the answer you want?
    2. Once you've got the opinion, why continue to participate, particularly since your vote hasn't been needed for passage? Even without Bortz, the streetcar has five votes (Qualls, Quinlivan, Cole, Thomas, and Berding).

    Bortz has permitted--begged for, even--a controversy to be manufactured. Of course someone was going to file an ethics complaint. Of course certain people would use this to detract from a debate on the merits of the streetcar.

    Chris Bortz has displayed an appalling lack of judgment in this matter, and everyone should be disappointed in him. Streetcar advocates should be angry with him for hurting their cause, regardless of the existence of an actual conflict. And streetcar opponents are upset that he ignored the opinion of the OEC after asking for it. He needs to start doing better by the citizens he represents.

    Don't 3C and the Streetcar Need to Work Together?

    It's no secret that I am no more than lukewarm about the prospect of a streetcar in Cincinnati. (Though it may seem odd to some of you, some info about Kenosha's experience is perhaps bringing back to supporting the streetcar.) And I actually don't like the proposed "3C" train. (I'm not sure who decides to take a three-hour train ride to Columbus from Cincinnati when your car gets you there in half that time. I'd consider the six-hour trip to Cleveland, depending on the reason for my trip.) If federal money becomes available for the streetcar, though, it appears both will be foisted on us. My question: shouldn't they connect?

    City Council recently agreed to recommend that a site on Laidlaw in Bond Hill be the Cincinnati terminal of the 3C line, at least until Union Terminal becomes a viable option--and that could be two decades away. So what happens when a passenger arrives at the Bond Hill station? Remember, that's north of the Norwood Lateral. How do you get to downtown? Or Clifton? Or anywhere else?

    Given that the federal government has agreed to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to passenger rail in Ohio, wouldn't it be a good idea for the city to make a streetcar pitch that is connected to that investment? Terminating the train in Bond Hill creates a real danger of a "train to nowhere." So why not pitch the government on not only funding the streetcar, but funding an expanded version of it now, reaching all the way into Bond Hill to connect the new train line with both downtown and Uptown?

    Below is my proposed streetcar route. Note that I have the streetcar jog west to Spring Grove. That's because if it went straight up Vine Street, it would pass through St. Bernard, and I have no idea whether St. Bernard would support the extension of the streetcar through its boundaries.


    View Donald's Streetcar proposal in a larger map

    Tarbell Gets It: Arts Means Jobs

    Saturday, May 01, 2010

    Enquirer Endorsements for Hamilton County Commissioner Primaries

    Well, while much of the Enquirer's Reporting has begun to reflect the importance and value of the City, their Editorial Board clings to the folly that people outside the City would be better at City-County relations, than current and former City Council members. What that translates to is that the Suburban centric Enquirer Editorial board somehow thinks the rest of the county knows how to run a county better than the biggest player does. The folly in this idea is that the rest of the county has two concepts that are paramount: 1) Everyone for themselves, where each small town takes care of itself, and 2) The City Is the Enemy, where the city is either the cause of the problem or the place to dump their problems.

    Endorsing Hubert Brown in the Democratic Primary sounds more like a strategic move to anger Thomas, Tarbell, and the Democratic establishment, rather than a reflection of the best candidate.

    Jim Tarbell is the best candidate out of the three. That is clear from any logically perspective and Jim has far more ability to embrace the rest of the County than Brown would for the City, a place I don't know how much he knows about.

    Cecil Thomas has just been phoning it in. His lack of commitment to the primary and his penchant for appealing to arch conservatives makes him the worst of the three.

    Picking Ghiz over Monzel is no surprise. What is more interesting is the rosy picture they painted of Leslie Ghiz as being "politically savvy" and having "tough solutions." Well, if you think it was politically savvy to do nothing but hide in the shadow of the FOP and offer ZERO solutions to the City's budget problems last year, then I guess someone must be confusing the real dictionary with the fake dictionary. Also, in the campaign, Ghiz has been the one rather quiet, while Monzel has been the political grandstanding champion. What I guess is "savvy" about Ghiz is that she did all of her grandstanding last year, while Monzel's grandstanding looks more forced than hers does, being so close to an election.