Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why the One-sided Interview?

So the Enquirer's Mark Curnutte had an article called Social worker: Poor pushed from OTR with a subtitle of "5 QUESTIONS: Alice Skirtz". It includes a short introduction to Alice Skirtz and a book she's written. Then it has a really short Q/A, literally five questions, that has no depth what-so-ever on the subject she's writing about. She makes outlandish and unsupported claims in the answers she gives and no follow-up questions are published seeking evidence on what she claims to be true.

What gives?

Is this throwing a bone to a particular political activist group? Is this article a reward for something else? It is not customary to let anyone equate the actions of redeveloping a decaying neighborhood with genocide, calling it "econocide," without calling It insults those who are making the city a better place, and it sullies the memories of those who actually have died in acts of genocide.

This Five Questions concept could be one that I've not seen before, but really is off mark for a story a subject like this. When there is controversy on the validity of what an author writes, then five questions just does not do justice to the reader. We need far more or just skip the author and/or the subject. If you can do something right, please don't do half of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Great Idea For Outdoor Events

I am not sure if this was planned far in advance, but a great idea used during the World Choir Games was to use large fans at Fountain Square and other outdoor events.

These fans were stationed strategically around Fountain Square and cooled off choir members and city residents at Second Sunday on Main. When it is 95 or even 100 degrees, the mix of mist and wind brought comfort that not only felt good, it helped keep some people from heat stroke.
That is the real brand name, believe it or not. I don't know if these were rented or purchased, but I hope every summertime event in Cincinnati takes note and considers these in similar situations. Cooling stations are common at events, like Riverbend, but they have to be far away from the show, so as to not interfere with the music. At an event like the Square, music quality is not a big factor when the ticket price is free.  I hope to see these fans again.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Greg Landsman Running for Cincinnati City Council

The 2013 City Campaign is off and the first new candidate is Greg Landsman. Landsman is well known inside the Democratic party having worked for Ted Strickland, Nancy Pelosi, and David Pepper. In a year when there is one certain open seat (Thomas) and likely two if Qualls runs for Mayor, there is room for another Democrat and one that comes across more in the Moderate camp, based on the limited information on his website. When you make the following comment in your platform, you are not going for the Urbanest vote:
A renewed commitment to neighborhood growth. We can begin to focus more on our neighborhoods without undermining the progress we've made downtown, but it will take a smarter and more intentional approach.
That sounds like an appeal to the voters who elected P.G. and John Cranley in previous elections. It sets him apart from most of the other Dems and tactically is a logical position to find a way to win in a complicated city political demographic landscape.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Square v. Park, Terms Matter

Terminoligy is important to all societies. To the urban Cincinnti community we need to get a couple of things straight. When we say "The Square," we mean Foutain Square. When we say Park, here's the rub: we have a ton of parks. When I say Park, I am going to mean Washington Park. I don't mean to detract from Smale Park at the Banks, but in reference, I will refer to it as the Banks or the New Riverfront Park. That differs from Sawyer Point, or Yeatman's Cove. Washington Park I believe will be the premier event park in the city, so let's just cut to the chase and refer to it as "The Park."

I say this because people need to stop calling Washington Park "Washington Square" or worse yet "Wahington Square Park" when they remember the difference mid-conversation. We need to remember, words matter. I don't want my friends waiting for me at the foot of the Fountian when OTR Jake Speed are paying tonight.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kathy Y. Wilson, Island of Trite

Year 2000 called and they want their argument back. I'll guess I should have just wait for the Black United Front's 12 year late press release before I wrote my blog post, but instead I going to look at the present and at reality.

I am reminded of a story I head once about Kabaka Oba, the late black-supremacist, who was protesting the performance of a play at the Know Theatre called Corpus Christi. He struck up a conversation with someone supporting the Theatre and they asked him if he had seen or read the play. He said no. They then asked Oba how could he honestly complain about the play if he had never seen or read the play. Kabaka Oba paused for a moment of thought, and said something like "you're right, I'm going to have to think about that." He then left and wasn't seen protesting the play again.

I guess the comments on the column are just rewards for this blatantly phoned in attempt to generate controversy. I understand that being a lesbian black woman would make me feel like I don't fit in anywhere in the far to often bigoted/racist world, but I wouldn't allow that to lead me to repetitive contrarianism.

I guess someone else at CityBeat doesn't just want a pony, she wants a blue pony and will stomp her feat until she gets it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Enquirer To Erect Paywall For Its Online Content in October

The Enquirer will create a paywall for it's online content starting in October. Earlier this year news broke that by the end of year this would happen. This new timeframe was shared in a speech given by the Enquirer Editor Carolyn Washburn which oddly enough was given an full fledged news article. Here's the main point provided from the story:
The Enquirer beginning in October is also changing its business model to to charge for subscriptions to access both online and print content. The cost of the new subscriptions has yet to be determined, Washburn said. It will be metered, allowing for some free access online.
There wasn't a ton of flack from the earlier announcement of the paywall. I expect the first time someone reaches their allotment maximum and are sent to a subscription page, we'll hear a screaming whine like Porkopolis has ever heard.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bunbury Music Festival Starts Today!

I have my three-day pass for the 1st Annual Bunbury Music Festival and I am trying to pick my schedule from the vast line-up. Yes, I am going to see the headliners and, yes, on Sunday I will be at the GBV show, even if I have to sit through a monsoon. After that, I am going to be exploring. I'd love some advise, so chime in on the bands to see.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mason Home Owners to Avoid Income Tax Increase?

If you read the Enquirer's Mason Buzz Blog, you would learn about a ballot issue that if passed in November would implement a 0.12 % increase to the Mason income tax, taking it to 1.12%. Here's the rub. The blog post indicates that this increase would apply to only "nonresidents." If you read the proposed ballot language, then you would read something very different:
Section  10.05  FUNDING OF SAFETY, FIRE AND EMS SERVICES Mason shall raise funds to pay for safety, fire and EMS services through two revenue sources.  First, a continuing real estate tax levy not to exceed 5.0 mills may be imposed on Mason real estate commencing in tax year 2013 for collection beginning in 2014.  This levy shall continue until changed by the electors of Mason through an amendment to this charter provision.  Second, a not to exceed .0015 tax on income shall be collected by Mason in the same manner as the income tax set forth in section 10.04 of the Charter, with the exception that those who own and live in homes in Mason, and who therefore pay the real estate tax set forth above, shall be exempted from the not to exceed .0015 income tax along with their dependents.   

This income tax shall be imposed starting on January 1, 2013 and shall be at a rate of .0012 during calendar year 2013, and cannot be changed except by legislative action receiving an affirmative vote of at least five council members, and can only take effect on January 1 of the calendar year following legislative action, provided that such legislative action takes place at least six months prior to the effective date and shall not exceed 0015.
I read the above language and I can see a clear intent to not have this tax increase affect home owners who live in their Mason home. The key section is "with the exception that those who own and live in homes in Mason, and who therefore pay the real estate tax set forth above." Furthermore the most telling phrase is "own and live," with the conjunction indicating both are required. It does not say "and/or." It does not say "residents". Renters would be subject to the tax increase in my amateur option, while home owners would not. I don't know if this ballot language must be vetted by anyone else, but I think the blog post was wrong or at least the language is not what the reporter was told it meant.

This is a common Republican and Libertarian theme: give more rights and benefits to property owners. Hamilton County did something vaguely similar by increasing the sale tax to fund the two stadiums while lowering the property tax, a boondoggle in favor of property owners, one we are feeling the pain of presently. The difference is that Hamilton County didn't limit the tax increase to only non-property owners.

This is a nightmare for Mason. It is a clear redistribution of wealth, in favor of of the rich. In case you wondered, homes in Mason are, on average, out of the reach of lower and a majority of middle class people.

According to the article, many are opposed to it because it would affect those working, but not living in Mason.  They don't seem to notice it would affect those renting an apartment in Mason and taxing them more no matter where they worked.

The big thing missing in this ballot language, likely on purpose, is how to enforce the tax rate variance. Private payroll systems will have a difficult time defining "property ownership" so they would either charge the 1.12% on everyone with a Mason address or 1% on everyone, leaving them to deal with the difference on their own.  I supposed those who know their tax rate could request the correct percentage, but then it all comes back to more work for those filing and processing tax returns.

This is just bad policy.  Mason needs to raise taxes, obviously, but they should do so fairly to all, not to the benefit of home owners.  I would bet the massively Republican city will vote this (and any) tax increase down, even though a majority of voters would not be affected.  Mason City Council members are so incredibly gutless to not do this via an ordinance.  Seeking political cover over a major issue is not uncommon in government, it is just unseemly.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If Peter Bronson was still a columnist

It has been years since I have written about former Enquirer Columnist Peter Bronson, so his current doings are a mystery to me. I believe, however, that if he were still writing for the Enquirer, he would be gushing the praise, as I feel, for the World Choir Games. This is an event that everyone can support and feel proud that people of all backgrounds made happen in our city.

As I type this out on my iPhone while standing on Fountain Square with my third beer in my hand, I feel utter joy. I don't know much about the choirs competing in the World Choir Games, but I feel like I am a witness to the best of humanity.

Youngish Asian men are break-dancing with roots music playing. Tons of people are watching, taking photos, and having a wonderful time. This is humanity. This is Our Cincinnati.

Enquirer's Bellwethers Blog Series Demonstrates Public's Ignorance

The overall point I find hovering over nearly all of the stops the Enquirer's Jane Prendergast makes on her Bellwethers tour of Ohio is that people are vastly ignorant of political issues. Just because they have an opinion, doesn't mean it is an informed opinion. What is demonstrated most is that people can only understand what they see 5 feet in front of of them. That's an over the top metaphor, but on track. Most of the people interviewed seem to exist only in the limited experiences of their lives. They are cut off from the wider parts of the State, let alone the country or the world.

Some talk about not understanding something because they don't "know" anyone who fit into a specific situation.  I am guessing they don't have many friends or live in such an isolated or homogenized community that they are just ignorant.

One lady is so ignorant (or worse) that she still believes the President was not born in the United States.  I am guessing she is not delusional.  If I assume that and I assume that type of belief is not code for racism, then I would presume she doesn't consume enough or accurate news sources.  Anyone left believing the President was not born in Hawaii is either delusional, extremely ignorant, a racist (therefore also delusional) or playing around for affect.

I realize the blog posts are limited glimpses of each person interviewed and don't provide larger transcripts of the conversation, but I am trust the reporter's ability to provide an accurate interpretation of the interaction.  I hope the thing that the reporter, Jane Prendergast, takes back to her editors is that the news media needs to do a better job of educating the public.  It is no longer good enough to report that people have two opinions on the location of the President's birth.  Journalism must present the facts and keep reporting the facts, no matter how many crackpots creep out with promises of controversy and an increased audience.

We need journalism to do better to educate the public on facts and stop pretending there is always a debate on the facts.  Often there is a disagreement on the facts of a situation, like the horse race of an election or what the best policy should be.  The existence of a disagreement does not warrant underplaying facts.  Water is wet, the earth is not flat, Elvis is dead, and you can't dance on the head of a pin.  Journalists don't even alluded to those being false.  If you read a story where a debate on a fact like that is even mentioned, then that story was not written by a journalist.

It takes judgement on defining those facts.  But that judgement is based on evidence, not popular vote.  The public is filled with too much ignorance and reporting the ignorance with equal standing as the fact just makes the public more ignorant.

Yes, I watched The Newsroom's latest episode. I wish all Journalists watched it, but also lived it.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Celebrate the Renewed Washington Park!

Today is the start of a new era for Over-the-Rhine. The opening of Washington Park is corner stone in the revitalization of the neighborhood. A place built for all to enjoy, the park will be a location for people share the elements of life that make it worth living. Music, art, children, pets, play, sport and recreation are some of the elements that await everyone who wants to experience them.  Please check out the calendar of events and delve yourself into the community.  I'd point out City Flea taking place on Saturday, July 14th.

I hope the park never returns to what it was, a wasted space. There are some who want it to return to a dumping ground for trash, crime, and abuse. That will not happen. Spread the word on the rules of the park and help keep vigilance. This park is for everyone, but that doesn't mean a few get to do what ever they want. If there are any groups or individuals that knowingly break these rules, please report them. If they don't know the rules, point them out.  If nothing else, take a photo of the violation and send it to me, I'll post it and expose those who seek to destroy what will be the beacon of OTR.

This park is part of the community and the community must take care of it.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

A Panera Downtown Is a Good Thing

There may be some people out there complaining that Panera will be opening a Fountain Square location. Please stop. This is a good thing for Downtown. Yes, it's another chain restaurant. I try to avoid chain restaurants, but not everyone can. It is just never going to be possible for local resturants to solely serve the public. Chains exist because they can provide meals more cheaply than stand alone resturants, in most cases.   I would prefer there to be few chains, but no use to get ticked off as something that will create jobs and serve a significant number of customers. Panera will provide, hopefully, a consistent product served during consistent hours.  Those hours will hopefully also include evenings and weekends.

Panera beats adding a McDonald's or Burger King.