Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Kingdom for an Editor

Getting the facts right is the bedrock of Journalism. To my disappointment, but not my surprise, I read this short news report today in the Cincinnati Enquirer. This story reports the tragic murder of a Restaurant worker. That isn't the problem. The problem is with the location listed: "West End." It is exacerbated later in the article when the address of the incidence is listed: "The shooting occurred inside Richie’s Fast Food Restaurant, 4871 Reading Road, West End, at 11:54 p.m. Saturday."

Here's what it looked like online:
I did a Google Search for "4871 Reading Road, Cincinnati, OH" and the first thing that comes up is a map link for Richie's Fast Food Restaurant and a small map with a pin signifying the Restaurant's location right above a label on the map indicating it is located in Bond Hill. The West End and Bond Hill are miles apart. It took me longer to write this blog post then to determine where this incident took place, Google is actually quite fast.

Does this change story?  Not really.  It doesn't ease the pain of the family and friends of murder victim or help the Restaurant Owner overcome the robbery . One thing it does hurt, is the public's knowledge and perspective in trying to catch the criminals responsible.  The article ends with information on how to contact Crime Stoppers with information on the crime.  Well, for those who read this story may now be confused as to where this crime took place and may be less likely to report something they may have seen near the location of the crime.  With that in mind, the Writer and the Editors need to do better and know the City.  They should know that while Reading Road winds through many neighborhoods in the City, the West End isn't one of them.

Fact Checking is a lost art in the online newspaper world. I really hope the Enquirer can do more of it and maybe after reading this post, they may update the article.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Bortz's Freedom of Speech Being Questioned

I can understand that the Ohio Ethics Board can see conflicts of interest for public legislators or officials who take actions, like voting or rulings or ordering funds to be spent, in specific situations. I don't aggree a conflict exists for Chris Bortz, for example, but I can comphrend the argument being made. I can further agree that officer holders should not vote on issues that they stand to meaningfully and directly profit from. I don't understand how any official can be prevented from speaking in meetings or to other officials or in open legislative sessions on any topic. How is pubic or private speech an ethics violation? Bortz should be allowed to give his opinions and offer his knowledge and expertise on the Streetcar. He's not a Judge, he is a legislator. This lawsuit is without merit and is politically motivated and should be seen as nothing else.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monzel Still Has Nothing to Offer

Cincinnati Council member Chris Monzel, candidate for County Commission, had no questions or ideas about the City's Budget during a Council Budget Committee meeting. Here's what the article states he offered to the meeting:
"Councilman Chris Monzel, who is running for Hamilton County commission, didn't submit any questions this time, but reminded that he has, in the past, suggested cutting car allowances and using managed competition."
This is the man claiming he will work towards balancing the County's budget. Why isn't he doing it in his current job with the City?

Jim Tarbell's TV-Commercial Hits the County

His opponent's commercial lies about Jim, how's that for a contrast?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

OhioDailyBlog: Jean Schmidt Lectures 1st Graders On Abortion

The OhioDailyBlog is reporting that Ohio 2nd District Congresswoman Jean Schmidt while speaking to school students, including 1st Graders, on a "day in the life of a Congresswoman", launched into a "graphic discussion about abortion. This reportedly took place in a Hamilton County School. The School also reportedly sent a letter to parents, altering them to the incident that occurred last week.

Schmidt should come clean on this and say what happened and apologize if what is reported is true. She has yet to reply. Even if this was a private school, something not published, kids should not be subject to this type of thing.

I am waiting for COAST to condemn Schmidt for doing this. I guess since they kids here can't vote, Finney won't be going GOP-TV to complain.

Side Note: Schmidt's website (which I will not promote directly) does not list any of her positions. All it has is a way to volunteer or contribute or contact her. Plus the only way to contact her is by direct mail or telephone. Not even a webform for questions. I've never seen a campaign website have less information a week away from the election. It is sad, it so incredibly sad that a SITTING congresswoman does not list her basic positions on the version issues. It's like she's counting on Party ID and the ignorance of the public to win. Imagine that.

I don't think we'll see anything in the media about the abortion lecture, unless a parent will go on the record. A copy of the letter should be enough, but the local media won't bother pissing off the anti-abortion crowd, unless there national ratings in the mix. We've not read much about the details of Schmidt in the Enquirer. I guess writing off the assumed victory is how they serve the public. Oh, wait, they don't do that anymore, I keep forgetting that.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Miami Hockey Unanimous #1 In the Nation

Love and honor to Miami,
Our college old and grand,
Proudly we shall ever hail thee,
Over all the land.

Alma mater now we praise thee,
Sing joyfully this lay,
Love and honor to Miami,
Forever and a day.

Read about it Here

Dear O'dell Owens: Resign as Coroner

I really appreciate O'dell Owens' service as Hamilton County Coroner, but he needs to resign. I think he will be a great President of Cincinnati State, but he needs to quit the office of Coroner and make way for a new person to complete the rest of his term.

I don't really care why he's waiting. There is no good reason that helps the residents of Hamilton County.

Tim Burke, get the job done and announce the person who will fill the position. There is no reason to wait, make the announcement today. That will add some pressure to Owens. We don't need any more artificial confusion in County government then we have now.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On Oct 25th Buy Greek Spaghetti at Arnold's & Help Jim Tarbell

The wonderful people at Arnold's Bar & Grille will be donating 50% of Greek Spaghetti sales on Monday October 25th to Jim Tarbell's Campaign for Hamilton County. Come out on Monday and support Jim while enjoying the great food from Arnold's!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Most Ignorant Enquirer Editorial Ever?

Nothing was going to change the Republican Enquirer's prior endorsement of Chris Monzel for Commissioner no matter how much they claim they had an open mind. That being said, I have to say that who ever wrote this editorial is about as ignorant of what makes for good leadership and governance as I have seen in professional journalism in long time. If that is not true, then someone on editorial board is just not paying attention.
"Monzel sometimes will advance provocative ideas - such as selling the Reds and Bengals stadiums outright or collaborating with other counties on a regional jail - that may not have been fully thought through and may not be practical. But why should it be out of the question to even advance such ideas? Couldn't the discussion at least lead to viable alternatives?

Tarbell has a keen grasp on what didn't work in the past, but Monzel offers a stronger vision of what will work for the future."
Let's review:

  1. Monzel has not offered a vision for his basement, let lone for Hamilton County, yet the Enquirer claims he has one.  I'd like to read about that vision, especially if it is so certain that italics were needed to emphasize the "will" in the online version of the editorial.  We don't read it in the editorial, because it doesn't exist, unless Chris has secret vision for Hamilton County.
  2. What actual 'provocative' ideas has Monzel put forth that are not acknowledged to be impractical?
  3. Monzel has never put forth a plan on what he would cut from the County Budget to make up the deficit, so what is the Enquirer basing their hope on?
  4. Monzel has served as a City Council member and has failed to put forth a plan with DETAILS that outline how the City can balance its budget.  He has failed to do this in office covering multiple years.  Why would the Enquirer think he will not do the same thing to the County?
  5. This one takes the cake: The Enquirer admits that Monzel didn't think through his notion to sell the stadiums and agree it wouldn't be practical.  They know that Monzel stoletook the idea from David Pepper, current Commissioner, who determined it was not practical.  Yet by pushing the discredited idea the Enquirer believes it is a sign that Monzel is better for office?  Having stupid ideas that people who pay attention know will not fly and have already been publicy addressed should be a sign that Monzel doesn't have any vision or plan or care in making the County a better place.  He is just a Republican empty suit the GOP power structure is using to try and win a majority on Commission.
It is obvious to me that the Enquirer wants the Republicans to have a majority on Commission and really don't like Jim Tarbell, so they would have endorsed a bowl of Skyline Chili if the GOP had put it on the ballot. It would be heartening if they could present a believable endorsement of Monzel instead of what they put forth, but the Enquirer can't turn water into win.

More on the Brinkman-Finney Voter Suppression Effort

WCPO has a story detailing who witnessed a group of voters arriving at the Board of Elections and testified via an affidavit that these where students from CPS. WCPO reports that Steve Johnson, a volunteer working for Tom Brinkman, made a report to Tom Brinkman, Republican candidate for County Auditor. The information provided to Mr. Brinkman and the details of his Affidavit were not available on the Clerk's website. I wonder if Mr. Johnson was deposed. I am guessing it didn't get that far. Here are some of the questions I would have asked him:

  1. How did you know the people in Church Vans were Students?
  2. How did you know the people in Church Vans were Cincinnati Public Schools Students?
  3. Have you ever seen other Church Vans or Buses or other groups of people arrive at the BOE to vote in mass?
  4. Do you report all people arriving to vote at the BOE to Tom Brinkman? (I would assume the answer would be "no.")
  5. If you don't report all people arriving to vote to the BOE to Tom Brinkman, why did you choose to report this group of people to Tom Brinkman?
  6. What time did this group arrive at the BOE?
  7. What prompted you to strike up a conversation with one of the drivers to learn the group of people voting were allegedly being treated to ice cream after?
  8. Did you witness the group going anywhere for ice cream?
  9. Were you or any other political volunteer prevented from speaking to or handing out materials to these voters?
The last question would be the key.  This is the question I believe is the basis of their case, but it would appear nothing prevented Mr. Johnson from having as much impact as any other campaign.  The other key point I would make with these questions is why this group of people was singled out.  What drove Mr. Johnson to think there was anything wrong?  This is not a unique occurrence.  If he's not reporting every group, then why he singled out this group makes this situation troublesome on his and Brinkman's part.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

COAST Suppressing the Vote, Again

Chris Finney, head of the anti-government right-wing extremist group COAST, is all bitter about a group of 18 year old adults exercising their right to vote. Yeah, the "students" talked about are 18 years old, or will be by election day. They are of legal age. They are no more mislead by anyone else who gets a free ride to vote, which happens all the time by both sides.

I wonder how he even knew this group went to vote, unless someone at the BOE tipped him off. That alone is worth a few questions by the defense attorneys.

I would like to know if Finney is doing anything about what is going on in Suburban schools. How many football coaches in this area are pushing Republican candidates?

I also would like to know why Finney isn't more concerned about Church Vans allegedly being used in this case. Because that's not be mentioned, I would then wonder how many church vans are used to give Republican voters rides, where only lists of Republican candidates are passed out. I guess that would look bad if he brought it up. It raisers questions, however. How many clergy are out pushing Republicans during bible study? Why don't Democrats sue to find out? I would surmise they don't want to appear to be suppressing votes, unlike some Republicans. Democratic supporters suppressing votes is news. Republicans suppressing the vote, is left to the Bloggers of the world to point out.

Finney is trying to prevent Democratic voters from going to the polls any way he can, but does nothing to identify or prevent the same type of thing from happening in Republican majority school districts.

Until Finney devotes equal time to expose the Suburban schools and the Private schools who allow the same type of thing to occur, then his partisan efforts to suppress Democratic votes will be apparent to anyone paying attention.

Monday, October 18, 2010

All Good Things . . .

I'll leave it for you to determine whether my blogging here has been a "good thing." But good, bad, or unnoticed, my blogging here has come to an end.

Beginning November 1, I'll be starting in a new job. For the first time since I started blogging here, I'll have a boss. And while the new boss hasn't told me I have to stop blogging, I've decided that I won't be comfortable blogging about potentially controversial topics any longer.

I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here at the Cincinnati blog since my first post. While someone else may have appropriated the moniker for himself, the real dean of the Cincinnati blogosphere is Brian Griffin. It's been an honor to blog alongside of him since my first post nearly three years ago. I've also enjoyed the many dialogues with the readers of this blog, as well as my interactions--both online and in "real life"--with other Cincinnati bloggers.

This blog is at its best when its readers take the time to engage in thoughtful, respectful discussions with each other about important topics impacting our city. It's at its worst when it devolves into name-calling and flame wars. I hope my posts here have inspired more of the former than the latter.

The end of my blogging doesn't mean the end of me. You'll still be able to find me hanging out downtown. And from time to time, I'm sure my name will pop up in the comments here, setting Griff straight whenever he becomes too dewy-eyed about the Red Hawks.

I offer thanks: to this blog's readers for paying attention to my random thoughts. To the blog's community of commenters for challenging me and, sometimes, educating me. To my fellow bloggers, both here and across Cincinnati, for inspiring me to be a better blogger. And finally, to Brian Griffin, for providing this forum for discussion and reflection about our amazing city.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

When Did Personal Spats Become News?

If you read CityBeat this week you also read the story that someone got pissed off about something and did something minor to someone else. It then would appear that 'someone else' happens to be someone Kevin Osborne (of CityBeat) knows, so what better way to get revenge then to have a personal spat aired in public.

I don't know how or why this is news but obvious problem is that this does nothing but make the local Gay Rights movement look divided between adults and whining children. The Adults know how to act and know when to take action. The Children complain when the Adults don't want to waste their time on pointless and costly symbolism. It appears the Children leaked an email to Kevin Osborne and he parsed it up into an attack on the Adults. Someone has a bee in his bonnet about the Adults not pushing the charge to force City Hall into fighting a culture war battle over an ant hill. No, this isn't news, this is petty personal bullshit that should be left alone.

What is the point of an article that shows trivial division in the Gay Rights movement? It comes across as a purposeful ploy to bring about change in the leadership of the movement, locally. One group wants to be Adults and actually achieve goals. The other group wants to break out the AK-47's and go to war over a minor issue, with no hope of actually achieving anything, outside of wrestling control of the movement from the Adults. Going to war over trivial pursuits does nothing but gain you more enemies. The Gay Rights movement is not about war, last I checked, but what do I know, I am just a possible future "breeder."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Job Opening(?)

I know another blogger has cornered the market on posting craigslist ads, but I couldn't resist this one, under the Jobs--Legal/Paralegal category:

Judicial opening on Common Pleas Court of Hamilton County, Ohio. Job applicants must be residents of Hamilton County Ohio, registered to vote, and licensed to practice in the state of Ohio for at least 10 years and in good standing. Send resume and copy of Supreme Court of Ohio bar card indicating good standing.

The ad promises compensation of $121,350 (which is the salary for a Common Pleas court judge).

I didn't know you could become a judge by responding to a craigslist ad.

It Must Be Fall . . .

. . . because I just ordered my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie from Fred & Gari's.

I don't even have plans for Thanksgiving yet, I just know I want that pie to be involved.

COAST: We Demand a Vote, Except If You Vote Democratic

In an attempt to help Republicans, the Hypocritical, anti-government, and anti-everything group COAST has joined the Conservative movement to disenfranchise Democratic voters. They are part of the Conservative movement, so this is really just the local shock-troops making a call to arms in the fight against Democracy.

Yes, COAST and other Conservatives are trying to prevent Democratic voters from voting in this election. What are they mad about? They are mad because the Hamilton County Board of Elections is going to be open for early voting on Sundays. I guess drinking beer and watching football is good on Sunday, but doing your civic duty is not, in the eyes of the extreme right-wing. Alas, local control of elections appears to be a bad thing. Nothing stops other counties from doing the same thing Hamilton County has done, but that type of self-determination is a COAST way of thinking.

Yes, Sunday voting would benefit every voter, Republican-Democratic-Independent-Other, but that doesn't matter. COAST and other conservatives believe that the more difficult we make it to vote, the more difficult it will be for working and middle class people to vote, who trend Democratic. Why stop voters from voting on Sundays? Well, many employers and corporate managers don't like giving people the required time off to vote, unless they are voting the way they want. In the case of Employers and corporations the voting preference would traditionally be more Republican than not. Republicans have been against all efforts to make it easier to vote, including early voting and voting by mail.

In reality most middle and larger size companies do a good job overall of staying out of the voting lives of voters. Individual managers and supervisors are hit and miss, along with smaller companies that rely on the attitude of the owner. Early and mail voting have been a huge success and I would bet most companies think it works far better than having to give workers any time to vote on Election Day.

COAST should be asking why other counties are not doing the same thing! If the issue is that other counties don't have the population to warrant the additional hours on Sundays, then complaints should be dismissed.

This shouldn't be a partisan issue. Republicans should be in favor of helping foster every opportunity for our citizens to vote. It clearly shows their intent when they fight to make it more difficult to vote for those more likely NOT to vote for their candidates. That is not Democracy. The problem is that today's conservative Republicans are not interested in Democracy.

Finally, in case you missed it: COAST is the group that spearheaded the effort behind "We Demand a Vote", the coalition demanding the public vote on various local issues, instead of elected officials. This was, on its face, an effort to make our local government more "democratic" in a non-representative and more mob-like manner. I wonder if the local Green Party or the Local NAACP, who also worked with COAST, will denounce COAST and local Republicans for efforts to disfranchise voters? Mr. Smitherman, this is your cue to issue a press release. I'd ask the Green Party, but I can't expect a political party that can't field a basketball team to have the time to issue press releases on voting rights.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not So Good Eats: Fountain Square Chipotle

Has anyone else noticed a marked deterioration in the level of service at the Fountain Square Chipotle in the last few months?

I'm a frequent patron of that restaurant--far more frequent than I should be, perhaps. So it's possible that I'm hyper-sensitive to changes in the quality of the experience and food there. But I don't think so.

When the downtown Chipotle first opened, I thought it was great. The staff was friendly and the service was good. Lately, though, the opposite is true. The food prep areas always seem dirty. The line seem to constantly run out of food, making customers wait while more ingredients are prepared. The people behind the counter vary from indifferent to discourteous; the last thing on their minds seems to be waiting on customers. It's now common to feel like your order is a distraction from some conversation being carried on between employees. On a recent visit, the man working the cash register made me wait while he went somewhere behind the kitchen and retrieved his cell phone, with which he sent text messages while he assisted me and other customers.

You'd think Chipotle would view the Fountain Square restaurant as its flagship store in Cincinnati, since that is the one that will get a lot of tourist traffic, including people from areas of the country that don't presently have a Chipotle. Right now, though, I'd just as soon drive up to Clifton or Stetson Square than deal with the downtown store. Or better yet, skip Chipotle altogether, head five blocks away, and get a chorizo burrito from Taqueria Mercado.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seven Years

For each of the last two years on today's date, I've been tempted to write something like what appears below. For various reasons--not the least of which is that we just don't do much personal blogging here--I haven't. But this year, for some reason, I feel compelled to do so. Or maybe just more able to. My apologies for this lengthy, self-indulgent post.

Seven years ago today, my only sibling--my sister, Julie--died in a car accident. She was 27 at the time. She was traveling between the two families she loved the most: after spending a long weekend with her boyfriend and his parents in Pittsburgh, she was on her way to our parents' house for dinner in New Jersey. Julie worked in Brooklyn and lived on Long Island, so she'd planned to spend the night in New Jersey, head into work the next morning, and then return to her own home.

Julie had managed to touch a lot of people in her 27 years. Following her graduation from college (which, unlike me, she completed in four years), she joined the Peace Corps, living and teaching in Burkina Faso, a small nation in West Africa. She worked for a few years as a youth minister in Presbyterian churches in Pennsylvania and New York. Eventually, she returned to school, earned her master's degree, and became a teacher. The 2003-04 school year was her first as a full-time teacher; she taught English at a public school for gifted and talented kids.

Julie's death was devastating for me, as it was for so many others. I can remember that terrible, terrible phone call from my parents as though it were yesterday. I was talking on my cell phone with my best friend from law school, chatting about women and football. Monday Night Football was on the TV; the Bulger-led Rams were playing. My land line rang; the caller ID said it was my parents. Thinking they just wanted to chat at the end of the holiday weekend, I'd told my friend to hang on for a minute (and that I'd ask my folks if I could call them back). Then my dad's voice: Donald, I have terrible news.

Still without any premonition of what was to come, I told my friend I'd need to call him back. Back to my dad: Your sister has been in an accident. Oh my gosh, I thought, she'd just gotten a new car, had she totaled it already? Where is she, I asked. Donald, it was bad. She didn't make it. Julie died.

With those last two words, my world changed. I think it's only recently I've realized how much. Part of who I was--who I am, who I'd always been--was Julie's brother. I don't think she knew exactly how much that was true. I was a year ahead of her in school. We'd gone to different grade schools, but the same high school. Since I was there first, a lot of teachers came to know her as "Donald's sister." But socially, the opposite was true. Among the student body, I was Julie's brother. To this day, I have friends (or at least "Facebook friends") who stay in touch with me only out of a sense of loyalty to Julie.

In October 2003, I'd been living in West Virginia for a month. I'd graduated from law school the previous May, and had just begun a year-long clerkship for a federal district court judge. It was supposed to be a great year, full of intellectual challenges and the beginning of learning my craft. Instead, work was a necessary distraction from what seemed to be a huge hole in my soul. The only people I knew in town were the people I worked with, and I'd only known them for a few weeks. Thank goodness that they are among the most caring, wonderful people I've ever encountered.

Work was a useful distraction for a while, but it, too, eventually became an all-too-painful reminder of what my sister had meant to me. As kids, Julie and I fought as often as any closely-aged siblings do. But as adults, we'd been really close, even though we weren't living in the same state. We regularly talked about our personal and work lives. She was beginning her career as a teacher, and I was beginning mine as a lawyer. We called to tell each other about the cool stuff we were doing. And suddenly, that was gone. Six months after my sister's death, I was sworn in as a lawyer at a ceremony in Columbus. And I couldn't stop my eyes from overflowing with tears. I couldn't shake the thought: my sister didn't live to see me become a lawyer.

It took a while--longer than I could have imagined--for the wound left by my sister's death to begin to harden into a scar. As anyone embarks upon their profession, they want to believe that what they're doing matters, that their work has meaning. But I couldn't shake the feeling that nothing mattered. After all, my sister had done as much as could be expected of her, and she had still died far too young. Making matters worse, probably, was that the circumstances of her accident yielded no one to blame. It was just a freak occurrence, one that 99% of the time would have resulted in a fender-bender or no accident at all.

Learning to be a lawyer (which is really what a lawyer does for his first two years in practice) is tough. It's even harder when you no longer have a firm conviction in the value of your profession--or any profession, for that matter.

I'm always amazed by the people who find meaning in tragedy. I've been moved, over the last couple years, by Kate the Great's discussions of her niece's illness and death. Why couldn't I find such serenity? Why couldn't I let go of the sadness, the bitterness? I remember the platitudes offered by well-meaning people: God needed another teacher in Heaven was a common one. I wanted to scream back, Really? I can think of a couple He could have had instead.

Work wasn't the only hard thing. When I returned to Cincinnati in 2004, my friends welcomed me back with open arms. Or at least, they tried to. I'd never been a really big party animal, but for a long time after Julie died, the thought of just hanging out with a bunch of people was intolerable. One or two was OK, but more than that? Couldn't do it. Weddings were out of the question. Every time I received an invitation (to a wedding, or a party, or just a happy hour), I really wanted to come. I'd even say yes. But I usually found a last minute reason--a headache, a work project, undone laundry--to skip out. It became so common, my friends had a name for saying you'd show up somewhere and then not doing so: "pulling a Caster." I avoided meeting new people. First dates were unbearable; inevitably, the question comes up: Do you have any brothers or sisters? How was I supposed to answer that? No. Oh, so you're an only child. Well..... Or: Yes, a sister. Really? What does she do? Umm.....

Thanks goodness for the patience--and loyalty--of those friends. My best friend--the one I'd been talking to when my dad called that terrible night--was amazing. He knew when to call, when to worry a bit if he'd not heard from me. He knew when to prompt me to talk about how I was dealing with things, and when to talk about anything but. And over time--a long, long time--things got better. Over the last couple years, I'm no longer just accepting invitations, I've begun actually showing up. I take joy in being an attorney again. As I begin a new chapter in my life and my career (more on that in the next few days), I'm filled with a sense of optimism. For a long time, change--no matter what kind--only brought a sense of dread. I enjoy my friendships and the company of others again. I'm not sure I could have ever predicted this when I chose to make it my home, but it turns out that Cincinnati was a good place to learn to live again.

I can't say that "hole in my soul" has healed or closed completely. That will never happen. But I've learned to fill it with other things. I've learned that it's OK to let go of some things, and grasp hold of others. I've learned that it's OK to move forward--and that moving forward isn't the same thing as "moving on."

So why do I write this here, exposing myself in such a public way? I don't know. Partially because I'm sure there's someone reading this who is where I was five or six years ago. Someone who experienced some loss recently, who feels stuck in the mud, and who can't seem to gain any traction. My message: keep the wheels turning. It gets better. You'll start to gain some momentum. Just be patient with yourself. And for those of who know someone in that spot: don't give up on them. Keep throwing them lifelines. Eventually, they'll grab on to one of them, and let you help pull them onto solid ground. Just be patient with them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Challenger for 2011 City Council

Yvette Simpson announced last week that she is a candidate for the 2011 Cincinnati City Council race. By my tally, that makes her the second non-incumbent to announce. Her campaign's Facebook page is here.

Yvette is a 2004 graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where I came to know her as an intelligent, hard-working, passionate individual. If she doesn't win a Council seat next year, it won't be for lack of effort.

I haven't seen news of this in the traditional media or on any of the local blogs, yet. (Griff's lack of coverage is surprising, since Yvette is a 2000 Miami grad and is currently the Director of Pre-Law Programs at MU.)

For those of you keeping a geopolitical scoreboard, she is (I believe) a downtown resident.

I wish my friend Yvette good luck in next year's race.

Preemptive Strike From the CFD in Budget War

Resolving the City of Cincinnati's 50 million dollar budget deficit will be a battle of wills and the Cincinnati Fire Department has fired the first volley in that fight. The Cincinnati Police Department will soon take a shot at countering the CFD's claims of critical need. Putting panic in the minds of the public is the biggest weapon in this battle, and both departments will fight until the last round is spent.

The question ahead: will city council be able to stick together and find an equitable deal? We're over a year from a city election, but is that far enough away for the conservative block to fend off the FOP's tar and feathering to come for those who vote to cut any FOP jobs? Or is the deficit big enough to force even the FOP to take some sort of cut to uniformed members? More to come. I'm wondering if anyone will try and rustle up some shock and awe. I don't think it will fly this time around.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thank You Cincinnati Reds!

If you had told me at the start of the season that the Reds would make the playoffs and lose in the first round, I would have been excited for a great season. Well, the Cincinnati Reds had a great season. They were not the best team in baseball, but they were near the top.

Last night I witnessed that loss in the first round from the upper deck at GABP and it was thrilling. The crowd was the biggest ever at GABP and they stood a majority of the game. It was what baseball is supposed to be. Our team was playing and that was enough to cheer about. We wanted the Reds to win, but it was just great being there.

The team played well this season and shows great promise. They made watching baseball fun. I want to thank the team for helping me find that fun again in baseball.

2011 will be a good year for the Reds. We have something in our baseball team most other cities don't: character. Let's build on that. Let's Go Reads.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bearcats 45, Miami 3

O Cincinnati, magic name
I proudly to the world proclaim
No sweeter word e'er charmed my ear
None to my heart was e'er so dear;
A fountain of eternal youth,
A tower of strength, a rock of truth.

Varsity, dear Varsity
Thy loyal children we will be.
Thy loyal, loyal children we will be!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Eddie Fingers Appears To Be Gone From WLW

Afternoon radio host, Eddie Fingers, appears to have been fired from 700WLW-AM. The long time FM morning host on WEBN switched to the higher rated AM Station within the last couple of years. His show on the "Big One" was getting good ratings. There is no official word on why he was fired. John Kieswetter, of the Enquirer, blogged last night that he sources indicate it may have been a contract dispute that got out of hand. That seems like a B.S. answer, but not totally false. There is always more to the story.

This all assumes the whole thing isn't a really bad hoax. WLW is known for pretending to fire people. If they did that here, and Fingers is on vacation, then this much lying is really pathetic. WLW is not above being pathetic.

I listen to either NPR or my ipod in the car both on the way to work and on the way home. The only value WLW holds is a breaking news outlet. If there is a tornado coming or snow storm, WLW does great work. It does pretty good work on 'news' but it devotes so little time to it, it is lost in the shuffle.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

No-Hitter Rant

I just posted the following to my facebook page. Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

Halladay was terrific yesterday, and what he did was historic. But let's not pretend that he joined Don Larsen. Larsen is still in a class of his own. Larsen pitched a perfect game, not just a no-hitter. And he did so in the World Series, not the league semi-finals. And finally (though not Halladay's fault), while I love my Reds, the 2010 Reds are not the 1956 Dodgers.


For the uninitiated, the playoffs did not even begin until 1969. Before then, the best team in the AL and the best team in the NL, based solely on season record, met in the World Series. Larsen threw a perfect game (27 batters retired consecutively, with none reaching first base safely) against the best team the National League had to offer. Halladay threw a no-hitter against the third-best team in the National League.

And with all due respect to Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto, I see no one with the stature of Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, or Roy Campanella on the Reds Roster.

Here's the box score to Larsen's perfect game. Here it is for the Reds-Phillies game last night.

Can Someone Tell Smitherman How Representative Democracy Works?

Did Chris Smitherman, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, ever take a civics class in high school? He was on city council for two years, so I would think he understands, at least superficially, how a representative democracy works, but I guess not. Instead he wants the public to vote on where the casino funding should go. We have an election in 2011. Someone might want to remind Chris about that. He should spend his time getting people to vote in that election. That is how our system works. His efforts to erode representative democracy have failed in the past and this will meet the same fate.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Clothing Line Re-Launch Has Local Roots

Remember those Hypercolor clothes from the '80s and '90s? You know, the shirts and windbreakers that started blue, and then turned pink with warmth (or was it the other way around)? Well, a duo that includes local attorney Vance VanDrake has bought the trademark (and, presumably, the technology) and is about to re-introduce the thermochromatic clothes to the public.

I met Vance in law school (he was two years behind me at UC). It looks like he and his business partner are taking a very smart approach to the re-launch, making full use of the web and social media. Hypercolor's Facebook page is here. This isn't the easiest business environment in which to launch a new business, and I wish the venture success.

Thanks Greg Hartman!

Greg Hartman, Hamilton County Comissioner, thank you so much for reminding me so clearly why I didn't vote for you.  Thanks also, Greg, for reminding me why I am NOT a Republican, since you're considered "mainstream" in your party.  Also, thanks for giving me another oportunity to make it clear why Chris Monzel would be terrible for our county, since Monzel is far more conservative than you.

Hartman is an idiot.  No one is forced to contrubute to these charities, and they are 501(c)3's by the way, so what is the issue? The groups he is out to hurt, are not political. They help people.  They fight AIDS, they fight violence. They provide food to the poor.  They help keep women healthy.  They help adults learn a new career. They provide music.  They give a the community a change to communicate. There are groups I wouldn't give money too, but anyone donating can pick which groups they want to fund, like the United Way does, so how is this in anyway a problem for anyone?  Is Hartman pissed he was consulted about it?

How many religious based groups are on the Unitied Way's list?  I think it is very reasonalble to consider the Roman Catholic Church as a controversial group and they are at least indirectly in control of the Catholic Charities SouthWestern Ohio, a group that received $949,000 dollars from the United Way in 2010. That is far more money than everyone from Community Shares got, combined x 3!

Also consider:
Crossroad Health Center
Diocesan Catholic Children's Home, Inc.
The Salvation Army of Greater Cincinnati
All three religious groups are funded by the United Way. More controversy, Greg!  Where's your anger?  This groups are controversial to some.  Why are religious groups not considered controversial?

Portune is right, Hartman is going to ruin this for everyone.  The United Way, Artswave, and Community Shares don't get much direct material benefit from the County's employer campaign, other than providing help in solicitation and processing of contributions if done by payroll deduction.  This is very much in line with what the government should be doing for 501(c)3 organizations. Hartman should, I don't know, grow a Heart?  Layoff the charities, the poor, and maybe think about finding a way avoid giving away more county money to the Bengals.  Just because you lose to the Browns, that doesn't qualify you for a handout.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Let's Go Reds!

With the playoffs about to visit Cincinnati for the first time since 1995, a couple quick notes:

ESPN's Howard Bryant has a terrific profile on Dusty Baker. Go read it. You'll learn a lot. (Did you know that Dusty was on deck when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run?) For those of you who still don't like Dusty, what will it take to get you on the bandwagon? He's probably the NL Manager of the Year. You say he can't manage young players. Really? Joey Votto had an MVP season a year after leaving the field with panic attacks. You say he can't handle a pitching staff. Right. On April 2, if I'd told you the Reds would make the playoffs but Harang wouldn't be on the playoff roster, would you have believed me?

Anyone who hasn't enjoyed watching the Reds this year just doesn't have a soul. The Reds have played baseball the right way. They're fun to watch, and easy to root for.

We're going to be ignored by the national media for a while. The stories will be all Atlanta Braves, all the time. The national media love the thought of Cox winning a ring in his last season. That's OK. Just smile and let the Reds take care of business, the way they have all season.

The Enquirer is asking what you're more likely to watch on Sunday: the NL Central Champion Reds or the barely .500 Bengals. (To me, that choice is easy.) I think local people will have a harder time deciding where to spend Friday: at home watching the Reds, or at a high school football game. (Again, to me, it's an easy choice, but I'm not so sure for alumni and parents from certain high schools.)

And finally, who do you think is a better leader of young men: Dusty Baker, Marvin Lewis, Butch Jones, or Mick Cronin?

ACLU on "Debtors' Prisons"

Today, the ACLU released "In for a Penny: The Rise of America's New Debtors' Prisons." (Hat tip: Enquirer Politics Blog.) The report looks at policies in Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, and Washington and concludes that indigent defendants are being incarcerated because of their inability to pay fines or court costs. Both the US and Ohio Supreme Courts have repeatedly held that such treatment of people who cannot pay is unlawful.

The ACLU's discussion of Ohio begins at page 43 of the report, and Hamilton County is mentioned at page 50. The report says this:
Renowned Cincinnati civil rights attorney Bob Newman notes that, at least in Hamilton County, he is not aware of any individuals who are serving time for nonpayment of fines. This is not because courts strictly follow the constitution and statutes barring the jailing of indigent defendants—it’s because the jails are already overcrowded. Courts simply have no room to incarcerate nonviolent offenders.

It's unclear whether the judgment that our local courts don't really care about the constitution is Bob's or the ACLU's. Either way, it's probably mistaken. Recently, the Hamilton County Public Defender has done an excellent job of educating our judges regarding its clients' constitutional rights in this area. What's more, earlier this year, the municipal court started sending unpaid fines and costs to a collection agency. For the most part, when a defendant fails to pay a fine (even if s/he fails to appear at a "stay-to-pay" date), a warrant no longer issues; instead, the case is "sent to collections." The result will be less crowded dockets and--if Montgomery County's experience is any indicator--increased collection of fines and costs (perhaps proving the conservative meme that the private sector usually does things better than the government).

This is overall an interesting report, and makes some points that should be considered. Of particular concern should be the abuse of the indigent in Ohio's mayor's courts. (At least one local municipality has an ordinance making it a separate crime to fail to pay a fine levied in a criminal case.) But Hamilton County is on the right track, and the report is, perhaps, unfairly critical.

Do The Mashed Potato

As the weather turns cooler, it's time for a return to comfort food. And right now, my favorite comfort food dish is Mayberry's mashed potatoes. Creamy and with just the right amount of pepper, they were the perfect side dish with lunch today. Lunch itself was the turkey hot brown, also a great comfort food item just in time for fall.

Cincinnati Film Festival Starts October 8th

Starting this Friday the Cincinnati Film Festival International Film Festival brings fresh short and feature films to venues across the Cincinnati area. Running from October 8th through the 16th, this festival (formally the Oxford International Film Festival) presents an ambitious schedule of events to complement the film screenings, including workshops on film making, a movie premier at the Hollywood Casino in Indiana, and a Gala at Memorial Hall.

Ticket information is here. More from the Enquirer.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Eric Deters Is Suing 'Whistleblower' Publisher

I really wanted my headline to read "Eric Deters is Suing an Asshole," but I didn't want to get myself personally wrapped up in a lawsuit, so I'll try to avoid it by saying I will not shed a tear seeing Jim Schifrin having to spend time or money to defend himself in court for allegedly making libelous claims about Eric Deters in the "Whistleblower" email newsletter.

Back in August Schifrin published an allegation that Deters was having an affair with Nicole Howell, the former teacher who was accused of having sex with a student. Deters was her attorney and successfully got her acquitted on those charges. According to the Enquirer article, she now works for Deters as a personal assistant.

I don't know and don't really care what Eric Deters does in his personal life. He is not someone I would say had a crystal clear persona before this allegation was made, but that comes with being a flashy defense attorney. If he ever thinks about running for office, well, then I might think otherwise. Investigating his actions as a lawyer or employer would be relevant in judging his fitness for public office. There is no evidence Deters has thoughts in that area, but in journalistic terms, that would be this kind of information something worth investigating. It is never good journalism to print rumors, especially rumors about sex.

I don't like the crap Schifrin writes. He is just a plain old fashioned asshole, and his many attacks on people based on race, religion, gender, etc are clear to anyone who reads his newsletter.

That being said, I hope Deters loses the case. I think he will, anyway. If his purpose is to bring some negative attention to the crusty old man, then good! If Deters is trying anything else, then he is wrong.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hamilton County Commission Candidates Forum

WVXU's Impact Cincinnati hosted both candidates, Jim Tarbell and Chris Monzel, yesterday for a forum (MP3) on the campaign.

Monzel still didn't give any details on what he would cut from the budget to make up the deficit. He won't cut the Sheffif patrols. He stated he has a list of of the budget items detailed in a spreadsheet, but doesn't know what he would cut. He blathered on about multiple HR departments. He wants to roll up his sleeves after he takes office, but he doesn't seem to have time to add up the numbers. He has a spreadsheet to know the numbers. 15 Million dollars can't be made up by reducing office supplies. If he wants to be trusted, he should say now what he would cut. 15 Million would require cutting a large number of staff. It means cutting the jobs of actual people who perform services for the County. Monzel should be honest with voters and tell us what services he would cut to make up the deficit, if elected. He has not proposed any revenue changes that will either be tangible or will close future gaps, so cuts are his only way to fufill his plan to have "less" government.

What people need to remember is that Monzel is currently a City Council member in a city with a 50 million dollar deficit. He has access to the City Budget. He has not rolled up his sleeves and found what can be cut to make up that budget deficit. What makes anyone think he will do that for the County? I think he'll follow Greg Hartman and shift money from indigent health services. If he is going to do that, he needs to make it clear. Give the voters full knowledge of his intentions. The code words are there. He wants "less government." He is against Metro government. He wants the power structure to remain the same, and the only place to cut where you don't hurt your political power is cutting the services for the poor.

Monzel has been a terrible Councilman, and will be a bad Commissioner.