Thursday, July 31, 2008

Steak with Black Beans, Hot Salsa, Sour Cream, and Cheese

Yes, most of Cincinnati is talking about the news that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been traded to the White Sox.

Whatever. I like watching him play, but it's not going to have an impact on my life. Or yours.

The bigger news of the day--the exciting news, the news that made me giggle with glee as soon as I read it--is about two of my favorite places: Fountain Square and Chipotle. And now they're going to be together. At last. I feel like the first person to taste peanut butter and chocolate together in the same bite. Can you imagine: sitting on the Square, eating a Chipotle burrito on a glorious spring day?

There are those who hate the encroachment by national chains into downtown. I wish I had comforting words of wisdom for them. I don't. I like Chipotle, and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm glad they're coming downtown. Now I can get a burrito, follow it up with a Graeter's ice cream cone, and wash it all down with a beer from Rock Bottom.

I might never leave downtown again . . .

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Week After

I posted a snarky dig at The Morning After blog from CityBeat. After a week of reading the rest of the blog, I need to give the blog props. It is a huge positive to see young people out having fun in Cincinnati. I hope they fight the urge to stay where they know, and instead branch out and see the rest of the city. People don't explore enough. Take the lead and just try something you know little about.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Open Thread: VP Predictions

With just a few weeks until the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, I wanted to provide everyone with an opportunity to predict the vice presidential candidates. If you're right, you'll then be able to have some concrete record of having been right, rather than just having to rely on your friends' memories. My own predictions:

For Obama: It's a little bit of a dark horse pick, but I really believe it's going to be Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas. That choice might be attractive to Obama for several reasons. First, her gender (female) may win over some of the PUMA's. Second, it puts someone on the ticket with executive experience who still doesn't overshadow Obama. Finally, her genealogical ties to Ohio (her father is fomer Governor John Gilligan) may win him some votes in the Buckeye State.

For McCain: I freely admit I haven't given much thought to this question. But as much as McCain likes to consider himself a maverick, I think he makes a traditional choice: a governor from a Southern state. My pick is Charlie Crist of Florida, with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana being a strong contender.

Oh, shoot, I forgot to use the one word that makes sure we gets lots of comments here. So let me rephrase the question: If you were able to get on a streetcar and meet the vice presidential picks of Obama and McCain, who do you think they'd be?

Fountain Square Magic

Last night, something pretty special happened on Fountain Square: two of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet became engaged to be married, all while being watched by people they knew, and some bemused onlookers who were no doubt surprised by the mini-drama.

Both the groom-to-be (the GTB) and the bride-to-be (the BTB) are friends of mine. I'm leaving their names off the post, so they can tell their friends and colleagues who weren't lucky enough to be on the Square Saturday night in their own time and in their own way. I've known the BTB for several years. She's one of the nicest (yep, said it again!), most intelligent, hardest-working people I've ever known. I've not known the GTB for nearly as long. But along with the BTB's other friends, I was happy for her when she got involved with the GTB--finally, a man who is worthy of her.

About a week ago, the GTB sent out an email to the couple's friends, informing us of his intention to propose. He invited us to sneak into Rock Bottom Brewery ahead of time (with warnings to be on-time, lest his subterfuge be foiled). He put together a video montage of their life as a couple, which concluded with his proposal, that was played on the Jumbotron. The camera operator then, in real time ("live") , zoomed in on the couple, as their body language made clear that the BTB had happily accepted. (We had snuck out of Rock Bottom to the far eastern edge of the Square, where we were able to watch without the BTB seeing us.) Both the GTB's and the BTB's families were present, as well. Most of the women present teared up.

It was a really nice moment on Fountain Square, and hopefully was a little bit of fun even for those who were just enjoying their weekend and had no idea what was about to unfold. And the men in the gathering were nice enough not to beat the snot out of the GTB, who has now raised the bar way too high for the rest of us single guys. (How do you top that? Get a marching band to spell out a proposal at half-time of the OSU-Michigan game?)

This certainly can't be the first wedding proposal in the history of Fountain Square, but does anyone know: is this the first time the Jumbotron has been used for that purpose?

And it's another sign of how much a part of Cincinnati's life, culture, and community the "new" Fountain square has become.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Do the Math

Another great addition for the Know Theatre arrives in their production of the National tour of Calculus: The Musical! The addition of Sadie Bowman as Education Coordinator for the Know is a good move. I don't know if that will bring her to Cincinnati full time or part time, but it will be great way to pump up the Know educational programs.

Friday, July 25, 2008

1st Annual Cincy Blogger Convention

A big thank you go out the folks at the Mercantile Library for hosting the Blogger Convention last night. It was a nice casual event were people got to put names/urls to faces.

I look forward to a repeat event next year. I think it would be great next year to have more of a discussion or activity that might spawn more focused learning about the best practices for blogging or for discussion as where blogging is going.

I was happy to meet several bloggers I've not met before and it was great catching up with friends.

For those where were there, would you say there are any overall traits you could perceive about those in attendance? Is there something that makes people become bloggers?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will This Translate to Locals?

It was wonderful to read about the recption Cincinnati police received from the NAACP convention. Will this be repeated by local Cincinnati residents? Will it depend on where you live or what you look like?

We have not heard much about the state of CPD community relations for a long time. I don't know if that means the police are making progress in relating to the public or if there are other reasons. I am sure the police still have detractors, but they are getting as much attention. Articles like this will not fuel confrontations.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cincinnati's Blogosphere

Soapbox digs into the rich blog landscape in Cincinnati. Yea, you can read about me and see my picture, so don't complain here if you don't like it! Ha!

It is a nice article that gives a good base background on blogging in Cincinnati. It is, however, only one pass at the huge list of local bloggers. Many more blogs, most of which you can see on my blog roll to the left, speak to a great many ideas and topics. Are there other local blogs out there people have read and think should have been mentioned on Soapbox or be included on my blogroll?

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Great Downtown Video

Soapbox Cincinnati has produced a great video of Summer in Downtown Cincinnati.

A Trolley?

So, who in the anti-public transportation camp is going to come out and oppose this idea being considered by the City of Wyoming in Western Hamilton County? This wouldn't be considered a Green part of town, with the GOP holding a firm grip on Wyoming City Council, just in case someone wants to be "blame" this intelligent idea on the Liberals.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Sundae Battle

Brian's post below reminds me that I've been meaning to ask our intrepid readers the following question for some time:

Which ice cream is better, Aglamesis or Graeter's, and why?

This is, of course, one of the most important and divisive questions facing the Queen City.

I'll post my own opinion in the comments.

Iris Book Cafe Opening on Main Street

Last Weekend those who hit Second Sunday on Main were treated to preview of the Iris Book Cafe slated to open by this month's Final Friday. This wonderfully redone space at 1331 Main Street has a front and back room and courtyard out back. Offerings will include Coffee Emporium Coffee, Aglamesis Ice Cream, a lunch menu, a small amount of vinyl for the hardcore music buffs, and ton of great books. Hours I was told will be 7 AM to 11 PM! With Kaldi's closing, the evening hours should do gang busters with the coffehouse crowd. This is a traditional coffeehouse, so without the bar the vibe will not have the edge of Kaldi's.

Who Knew???

Did anyone else in the world know that young adults graduate from college (UC) and then get work out of town? I just assumed that everyone who went to college here stays in town. I mean, isn't Oxford's population something like 200,000 people by now?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

MidPoint Showcase Artists Announced

CityBeat's Spill It has a big updated on who is playing MidPoint this year.

The national acts confirmed so far are:

Robert Pollard and the Boston Spaceships
The Purrs
Backyard Tire Fire
The Swimmers
Oh My God

The showcase list is also here.

Some local bands not on the list that are surprising: Wussy, Lion's Rampant, White Girls, Eat Sugar, Pomegranates, Straw Boss, and the Star Devils - what gives? Are these bands opting out of MidPoint?

Friday, July 18, 2008


Wow, I really would be so 'proud' of a downtown that you could put into the microwave and woosh! there it is, read to it. Who in this world values a home cooked meal anymore?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Broke As A Joke, But It Ain't Funny

The Hamilton County Commissioners have ordered all departments to cut their budgets by six percent for the last five months of the year. According to the Enquirer, Sheriff Simon Leis says he'll comply, but it's clear that he'll make sure we all notice:

Effective August 1, there will be less room in the Hamilton County jail, fewer deputies patrolling county communities and no one manning metal detectors at the courthouse or other county buildings.

Based on the comments linked to the article (I'm still not sure why it's a good idea for a newspaper--as opposed to a blog--to permit reader comments), a lot of people think Leis is whining, bluffing, or both.

I don't think he is.

We've already noticed one conspicuously absent guard in the Justice Center. For those of you who haven't been there, it's comprised of two buildings, connected to each other by a covered bridge at the second floor level. One of the buildings is connected to the courthouse by a covered bridge, as well. Typically, a deputy sits in a control room outside the secured areas of each of the buildings. Until this week. That's when Sheriff Leis eliminated the schedule for the deputy assigned to sit in the control room in the "South" building. So to visit inmates in the South building, attorneys (or probations officers, medical professionals, clergy, etc.) must now go to the North building, check in with the control room there, ride to the second floor, walk across the tunnel to the South building, and then take the South elevator to their final destination. This includes people trying to see inmates in the holding cells on the first floor of the South building, behind the courtrooms where defendants make their initial appearances.

I can't believe that Sheriff Leis is happy about this change. Visitors are all issued badges that show where they're headed. So if someone wanders away from the area to which their access is approved, it's always been easy for the corrections officers to tell at a glance. Now, though, the CO's will have to deal with people walking through the North building even though they have no business there--because it's the only way to get to the South building. The situation has to raise grave security concerns.

I've been interested by my own reaction to the announced elimination of metal detector coverage in the courthouse. I've always had a distaste for the increased security in government buildings over the past fifteen years, and have felt it unfair to have to subject one's self to a search as a condition of entry. But I'll admit: I'm unnerved by the thought of everyone entering the courthouse without passing through security. Lots of emotionally volatile things take place in our courtrooms every day. Once security is gone, lots of us will fear that an overwrought crime victim or family member will show up in a courtroom ready to exact his or her own form of justice.

The county is broke, folks. The question isn't whether it is, or whether to cut the budget. It's not even how we got here. (HamCo Republican Boss Triantafilou has decided to blame the Democrats. Apparently, he's forgotten that it's his Republican President's failed policies that have put our economy (and thus county revenues) into a death spiral, and Republican Bob Bedinghaus who was largely responsible for the terrible stadium deal.)

Now, we have to ask ourselves some real questions about revenue. How do we get more of it? How do we raise enough to provide at least a bare minimum of government services? I'm not sure anyone has the answer.

Flannery Attacked by Extremists

I don't think anyone would be surprised to find out that Mary Kuhl would try to stick it to CPS Board Member Michael Flannery over an email he sent regarding development in Westwood.

Does Westwood Concern (Mary Kuhl's micro-jingoistic organization bent on ridding Westwood of non-Aryans) oppose development everywhere, including in Westwood? Are jobs bad? Does opening a Bed & Breakfast attract the poor blacks too much for their taste?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something Inside Of That Man Is Broken

With Sunday's column, Peter Bronson has finally jumped the shark. He's gone from merely being a conservative who often misses the point to revealing himself to be a man who displays a total lack of human empathy and whose venom towards people who he can't--or won't--understand is worthy of our condemnation.

Apparently, Bronson spent a few hours following Lou Strigari, the Hamilton County Public Defender, while Mr. Strigari handled felony arraignments for his office's incarcerated clients. Bronson's conclusion? Take a look:
Contrary to what you hear from people who talk a lot about injustice, these guys belong behind bars and they know it.

Keep in mind that Bronson is writing here about pretrial detainees--that is, individuals whose guilt has not yet been established. Moreover, I'm not sure which inmates Bronson talked to, but certainly not any of my clients. I've yet to sit down in the Justice Center or Queensgate (or any other jail, for that matter) and have a client say to me, "Mr. Caster, thanks for coming, but you know what? I belong in here." Instead, my clients--even the ones who acknowledge their guilt--are worried about how to take of their families, about how to change their lives so they're not back in the justice system again after they finish paying for the mistake they've just made, or about that their future will look like if they have to serve time in prison.

What makes Bronson's judgment particularly reprehensible is that he was around inmates and corrections officers long enough to find out that some of the people he met need help. Again, from Bronson's own poison pen:

The jails would be nearly empty without mental illness and drugs. The guards agree that two-thirds of the prisoners have mental health issues, and 75 percent arrive under the influence of something.

(Emphasis mine.) I'm not sure if those numbers are really accurate (they're obviously anecdotal and rough estimates). But for Bronson to write that "these guys belong behind bars" while at the same time acknowledging that the majority of them suffer from mental health issues seems beyond comprehension. Is that what "compassionate conservativism" is about? Incarcerating people who need treatment? I don't understand how to reconcile those two excerpts from Bronson's piece.

This is a difficult week for attorneys who provide indigent defense in Hamilton County. Everyone involved knew that the system wasn't perfect. But reading the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association's hundred-plus page assessment of the provision of legal services here and how much it differs from a lot of places around the country makes me want to go back to bed, pull up the covers, and not come out until the system is fixed. (I certainly don't agree with each of NLADA's findings and recommendations, but overall, they get more right than they get wrong. And remember: the report isn't done by a bunch of nosy outsiders who should have minded their own business; the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners requested and paid for this assessment.) But as tough as it is to read the NLADA's report, it's even harder to read Bronson's hatred of all things--and people--that aren't suburban and just like him.

Griff: sorry about this. I know it's your job to beat on Bronson, but I couldn't hold back on this one.