Friday, June 19, 2009

Dems: Don't Let The Far Left Take Control

I've been a life-long Democrat because (at least in my mind), that's always been the party that has stood up for middle- and working-class people, as well as the poor and under-represented. I've begun to worry that my party is moving away from this role.

There's always been a far-left wing of the Democratic Party that has valued "the environment" over all else. For them, there's no human need that can trump the needs of an obscure species of spotted horned deer flies. The voices of that wing should certainly be heard. The problem is, they seem to be taking over the governance of the party.

We see the growing interest of the environmental left both locally and nationally. Locally, the City is poised to create a new "environmental justice" bureaucracy at the same time it faces a $20 million shortfall. Environmental justice is a real issue, and one that deserves attention. But the solutions are relatively easy: Council just needs clear zoning ordinances that prevent noxious, smoky factories from locating directly adjacent to residential (usually impoverished) neighborhoods. My concern here isn't about business vs. the environment. It's about people vs. the cost of the new proposal. It'll be a miracle is anything remains of the City's social services budget next year. There's almost no chance neighborhood pools will open next summer. So if I have a choice between creating an additional level of bureaucracy and letting poor kids swim, I'd choose the latter every time.

Nationally, the "Cash for Clunkers" program shows how the environmental left is pursuing its agenda at the expense of the working class. Here's how it works: the government will get old, lower-MPG cars off the road by offering owners a $4500 voucher towards a new car once they turn the old one in. The old car will not then be returned to the secondary market (e.g., used car dealerss, classified ads, etc.). But here's what people aren't talking about: most people don't buy cheap used cars because they want to. They buy them because that's what they can afford. Getting rid of the market for cheap used cars will hurt lower-middle class and poor people. So again, the environmental left values some unquantified benefit to the environment ahead of the needs of poor people, and has successfully codified this preference.

One of the major reasons the GOP is "wandering in the wilderness" is because it gave too much control over its agenda to the religious right. The party had become all about social issues--issues that, it turns out, don't matter to most voters during a weak economy. The "'small-l' libertarian" wing of the party began to abandon the GOP, and its apathy this past election cycle likely has a lot to do with the current composition of the government.

If the environmental left is permitted to dominate the Democratic party, it'll experience a similar fate. The populist wing of the party will abandon it (or simply stay home), and the party will lose its influence.

I'm not anti-environmentalism. I think recycling is a good thing. I'm in favor of finding ways to conserve energy. But it's hard to notice the environment if a person's basic needs aren't being met (think about Maslow's hierarchy). We shouldn't have to make choices between people and "the environment." But when the choice arises, let's make sure we choose the needs of people first, and strive--within that paradigm--to make the best choices possible for the environment.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ideas For Budget Cuts

There is a lot of detail coming out about how some Council Members would cut the City's Budget to reduce the deficit. Some of the proposed changes are big and would be seen as non-starters. One idea that caught my eye would be combining administrative departments (HR, Accounting, etc) between the Police and Fire departments. I think this would work. This would reduce some jobs, most notably management jobs, but it wouldn't greatly affect services.

More Changes at CityBeat

Joe Wessels writes this week that this is his last column for CityBeat, at least until Fall. Joe does not go into detail about the reason for the reduction, but does indicate that it is financial. Additional cuts/changes at the paper are rumored, but not confirmed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Look out, Mama, there's a white boat comin' up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't look like they're here to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.

The Hamilton County Sheriff got his boat for keeping Cincinnati's riverfront safe from international fiends where ever they lurk.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Budget Woes

What should be done to fix the City's budget deficit?

I would like to know how many police chiefs we actually need. That would just be a dent in the budget shortfall, but it would be a good start. There needs to be a combination of efforts: budget cuts, fee increases, and dare I say a tax increase. Unless someone (I am looking at the Republicans on council) care to propose what can be cut without killing social services or city development, I don't see how some revenue increase is avoidable.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

CAC Robot Is Gone

On Saturday morning I witnessed work crews dismantling the CAC Robot on 5th Street in front of the old CAC across from Government Square.

This morning I walked by again and it was totally gone:

I had hear rumors it might being going someplace other than the CAC. Anyone know where it is headed?

For some older photos check out Make Cincinnati Weird.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ONLY 18 Picks From CityBeat

There is just nothing to do today. I may just have to stay home. I mean, why can't the Buffalo Killers be playing at Northside Tavern? Cool bands like that aren't from here, they only live in places like Chicago where there is no crime or hate or conservatives. Chicago where everyone is the same, just like me! Chicago, the Suburbs for Hipsters!

Ok, that's enough ragging on the hipsters for now. It appears my post from yesterday got under one self labeled Northside Hipster. I just suppose that particular person doesn't get out much and I was surprised he actually didn't really understand how much he exemplified the type of person I was criticizing.

Also for the record, I really like Northside. I think at least one commenter didn't score well on reading comprehension. That, or he just decided to make stuff up. I am going check off both columns on this one. Also, Average Joe, if you really live in OTR, I expect to see you at Second Sunday on Main tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Nothing" To Do Here

Not long ago I would hear from many quarters of the metro Cincinnati area that there is nothing cool to do here. I'm just going to point out three options for tonight:

1. Wilco at the Aronoff
2. MidPoint's Indie Summer on Fountain Square
3. "A Praire Home Companion" at Riverbend

These are a mere three very cool and fun things happening which is only a sample, so I don't want to hear any Exurbanites or Northside Hipsters complaining. If you can't have fun in Cincinnati, it most likely is your fault. Yes, I just called out the hipsters. I expect I will feel the angst bubble that encompasses Lingo Street burst all the way down on Fountain Square tonight.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Corporate Loyalty Means Something Else to Fifth-Third

In the Corporate world hometowns do not matter. I am glad I bank with PNC and I hope all of the National City branchs start taking my ATM card soon.

Buddakan Closed?

I have not read anything anywhere about this, but after walking by the Buddakan Restaurant this weekend I can only assume that it has closed. There are "Coming Soon" signs on the door, but the front door is padlocked.

Does anyone have any information on this? Online news searches turned up nothing in the local media.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Time To Close The Book On Shadowhare

After several quiet weeks, "Shadowhare" made another public appearance, this one at Mt. Adams Pavilion.  (His appearance was not spontaneous; it had been listed as a selling point for the DERF Happy Hour in the Enquirer's "Five things to do:  Friday" feature.)  Mayoral candidate Jason Haap (through his own alter-ego, political performance artist "Dean of Cincinnati") currently has several Shadowhare-related posts, including video of the young, masked man at the Beacon.

I think it's time the media--both "mainstream" and "alternate"--stop giving "Shadowhare" the attention he so obviously craves.  (Yes, I know:  I just wrote a blog post calling attention to someone I think we should all ignore.)  Based on what I saw in the videos at the Beacon, I strongly suspect that there are is some sort of mental illness that underlies Shadowhare's behavior.  Even Jason's co-blogger, Justin Jeffre, agrees that Shadowhare may have a problem:
I feel sorry for the guy if he really suffered the kind of abuse that he claims he did, but I think this guy might have some serious mental health issues and should probably talk to a mental health professional.
So who cares?  If all Shadowhare does is show up and entertain drunk YP's on a Friday night, what's the harm?  The problem is twofold.  First, I doubt he's going to stop at just entertainment.  Eventually, he's going to do something dangerous.  He'll hurt himself or someone else.  And then we'll all wring our hands at why we didn't get this troubled young man some help, rather than encouragement.  Second, he encourages and emboldens others to act without appropriate training or knowledge.  If he continues to garner attention, someone who is like him--ill but functional--will think "crime-fighting" in a mask is appropriate, attempt it, and get hurt.

A couple caveats:

I don't have any formal training in diagnosing mental illness.  But I work with individuals who suffer from various mental illnesses on a daily or weekly basis, and watching the videos reminds me of the interactions I've had with some of them.

Second, I don't blame or in any way condemn Jason for posting about Shadowhare.  Shadowhare was first publicized by the traditional media, and the blogs have simply followed along.  (Jason, of course, is behaving typically--like a pitbull with a young child's leg in its jaws--by putting up multiple posts, suggesting (or at least hinting) that Shadowhare should be prosecuted, and posting about a fictional organization that jokingly opposes superheroes.)  But maybe, on careful reflection, those of us in the "alternative media" should show the restraint and responsibility so often lacking in the legacy media these days.  And in the meantime, we'll all hope that there's someone in "Shadowhare's" life who is close enough to him to get him the help he needs.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Last Day for CincyFringe

OK, it is time to put up or shut up! I am seeing three Fringe Shows today and that will bring my total to 31 shows, which is all of them. You need to get out and see at least one show today. This is your last chance and you will regret it if you don't go.

Here again are my recommendations for today:

It Might Be OK - 2:00 PM
Sex, Dreams, and Self Control! - 4:30PM
Guns and Chickens - 5:00PM
Cinema Fantastique - 8:00PM
April Fools - 8:30PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 8:30PM
Assholes and Aureoles 9:15PM

Go to for all of the details.

Friday, June 05, 2009

2 Days of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival Left

There are two days left of Cincinnati Fringe Festival remaining and a ton of great shows to see. The Conveyor has show reviews. Here are shows that top my list and the times they are showing:

The Edge - 7:00PM
4 Food Groups - 7:30PM
Gravesongs - 8:30PM
Empire of Feathers - 9:00PM
April Fools - 9:00PM
KAZ/m - 9:00PM
The Success Show - 9:15PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 9:15PM

It Might Be OK - 2:00 PM
Sex, Dreams, and Self Control! - 4:30PM
Guns and Chickens - 5:00PM
Cinema Fantastique - 8:00PM
April Fools - 8:30PM
7 (x1) Samurai - 8:30PM
Assholes and Aureoles 9:15PM

See as many as you can and then hit the Underground at the Know Theatre for the Awards Show and finale party.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Who Would You Honor?

The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners is considering inviting five "local civil rights pioneers" to enjoy the Civil Rights Game from the county's suite at Great American Ballpark.

Here's my question:  which local, living civil rights figure would you choose?  I certainly have my own preferences, which I'll keep to myself for now.

We'll Always Have Paris....

Well, I won't. Some of you may always have Paris, but I just wasn't hip enough to have heard the Paris-Hilton-is-coming-to-Cincinnati gossip.

It turns out she spent last night right next door to my apartment building. I couldn't figure out why Bang had a bigger-than-usual Wednesday night crowd, but now I know.

I've previously mentioned here that when Bang opened two years ago, I confidently predicted its quick demise. I figured it'd last about six months. I was wrong, and ultimately I'm glad I was. Even though I'm not young enough, pretty enough, or rich enough to be Bang's target audience, Cincinnati needs places like Bang and Bootsy's. (It also needs places like Madonna's and Nicholson's and Jefferson Hall (come back, J-Hall!); my point is that a diversity of club/bar atmospheres is a good thing.)

When the restaurant being built next to Bang (Boss Cox's) fell through, I wondered if Bang's owners were running out of cash. Apparently not: they're relaunching Bang as new club called Lush later this summer. (At least, I hope this is a real re-launch, and not simply a way to close up shop entirely without being embarassed about doing so.)

Paris: if you're still in town, give me a call or shoot me a text message. We'll hang out.

Cincinnatians Embark On Civil Rights Bike Ride (6/4 Bump and Update)

Originally posted 6/2/09.

Today, Cincinnati civil rights attorney Al Gerhardstein embarked on a 1200-mile bicycle ride from Mobile, Alabama, with his daughter, Jessica. Riding a tandem bike, the two intend to trace the Underground Railroad on their way back home to Cincinnati. They plan to arrive in time for the June 20 Civil Rights Game between the Reds and the White Sox.

You can follow Al and Jessica's journey on their blog, Civil Rights Bike Ride. As Jessica explains in her inaugural post, they are riding to raise money and awareness for the Ohio Justice and Policy Center. For those of you not paying attention, for some time now, OJPC has been leading the way in local criminal justice reform efforts. Most recently, OJPC has been working to eliminate the City's blanket prohibition on hiring convicted felons. Donation links are available either at the CRBR blog or OJPC's website (here's a direct link).

And if any of you are questioning whether a desk-bound attorney in his late fifties in really going to slog through a 1200-mile bike ride just as summer starts to heat up, don't worry about it. Four years ago, Al spent his summer vacation riding from the West Coast to the East Coast.

If you want to join in the fun, a group ride is planned on June 20 at 9:00 am, from Pendrey Park in Melbourne, Kentucky, to Sawyer Point. The suggested donation for the ride is $20, and there'll be help available to get you back to your car, if necessary. (The group ride anticipates people riding their own bikes, not one, really long tandem bicycle.)

UPDATE: Al has made his first appearance on the blog. I gave pretty short shrift to explaining OJPC's mission or the purpose of Al and Jessica's ride. Al does a better job:
Read about OJPC. Quietly OJPC is challenging the status quo. A prison population that is 50% black is intolerable. A prison population that exceeds 55,000 in this state is intolerable. Treating as criminal many acts that are driven by drug dependence is intolerable. Sweeping into the criminal system drug addicts and mentally ill folks and then doing little to help them conquer their underlying problem is intolerable.
Go read the whole post. It's well worth the time.

36 Reasons Streetcars Are Better Than Buses

There are more than 36, I am sure, but the Cincy-Streetcar Blog has the list.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Totally Random Observation

Did anyone else know that in El Paso, Texas, there's a group of bars and clubs known as the "Cincinnati Entertainment District?" Apparently, it's so named because the bars are either on or near Cincinnati Avenue....

Another Transportation Alternative

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested a blog post topic: the need for some sort of transportation service that connects Cincinnati's entertainment districts. She was right. We really could use a shuttle or bus that connects downtown, Mt. Lookout/Hyde Park/Oakley, Mt. Adams, Clifton (perhaps), Northern Kentucky, and wherever people gather west of Vine Street (I'm kidding, West Siders....please no effigy burnings today!). This isn't an alternative to the streetcar, since the streetcar, even if it happens, will only connect Clifton and downtown. When we talked about it, I thought the most likely provider of such a service would be Metro, but that there'd be a lot of red tape to cut through at SORTA to make it happen.

My blog rantings have been pretty sporadic lately, and I never got around to it. But a couple weeks ago, this same friend linked to a new business on her Facebook page. It sounds intriguing: the CincyZipLine. They hope to open this July and aim to provide transportation to and from "designated hot spots" for three bucks per person on Friday and Saturday nights.

Cincy ZipLine is apparently too hip for an actual website, but they do have a Twitter feed and a FB page. My initial reaction is that it's a good idea. It reminds me of what, in college, we lovingly referred to as "the drunk van," a convenient way to get to and from establishments where alcohol is consumed without risking an OVI or worrying about parking. Of course, it appears that ZipLine will only ferry you between bars and clubs, and you'll be on your own to get home, but it's still provides a service presently lacking in the city.

Hamburger Mary's To Reopen

Great news for Cincinnati Hamburger Mary's is reopening this summer at the same location (909 Vine St.).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CincyFringe Kicks Off

Here is my first on the spot blog report from the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. The crowd is starting to wonder over from the Visual Fringe opening. The early word is that the Fringe Action News will premier to night.

Fringe Action News!

Something new at this year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival will be a nightly news cast brought to you live at 10:30PM at the Know Theatre's Underground (1120 Jackson St.). The hard hitting team of Fringe Journalists will be on the prowl for every bit of Fringe News. The Fringe Blog will surely be a source of tons and tons of leads, but if you have leads yourself, email the crack Fringe Action News Staff: with your leads, stories, gossip, secret documents you want to leak, or just funny stuff you think other blokes might find kinda funny.

Fringe Day One: Kickoff Party Tonight!

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is here! Get your ass to the Know Theatre tonight for the Kickoff Party! It features music from Eclipse, food from Mixx Ultra Lounge and Venice on Vine, finally beer specials from Christian Moerlein! The party begins at 9 PM at 1120 Jackson Street, after the Visual Fringe opening (6 PM - 8 PM) at Art Academy of Cincinnati. Suggested donation is $5.

There is still time to volunteer for the festival and get free tickets. Get the info here.

If you can't pick the shows you want to see, you can see them all! I am!

Finally, for Review of shows, behind the scenes posts from Staff, and all around bloggy good times at Fringe, check out the Fringe Blog at

Monday, May 25, 2009

Milton Dohoney: Too Far Ahead of Us?

Last week, City Manager Milton Dohoney announced that he was appointing a non-resident of Cincinnati to a vacant spot on the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, or CMHA. The choice raised a few eyebrows, since the vast majority of public housing in this county is located within the city limits.

But the pick is more surprising given the way the Board is constituted. Of the five managers, the City Manager picks only two. The HamCo Board of Commissioners, the HamCo Common Pleas Court, and the HamCo Probate Court each pick one other member. The selection process itself, then, would seem to guarantee a city/suburb equity of sorts in board membership. Looking at the break-down of who gets to appoint board members, one would think that whoever came up with the system assumed that the city manager would choose city residents. (In contrast, if the city manager picked all five board members, one would hope he would include at least one or two non-city residents in his choices.)

Dohoney's pick is, perhaps, part of a broader policy agenda. Since being named Cincinnati's city manager, Dohoney has made it clear that he favors regionalism. This latest nomination supports that goal; Dohoney believes good government happens when communities work together across municipal lines and leave old-fashioned turf wars behind. Perhaps the best example of this view is his commitment to the creation of a regional water authority. He'd seen such a system work in Louisville, and now wishes to bring it to Cincinnati.

I'm not sure, though, that Dohoney has made his case for regionalism to the rest of us. Particularly with respect to transfer of Cincinnati Water Works to a regional authority, both City Council and Cincinnatians in general are skeptical. The Water Works is probably the most reliable part of City government and operations. We're never sure when our streets will be plowed when it snows, but we know we'll have pleasant-tasting water at good rates.

Dohoney hasn't yet done the work needed to sell the public on the benefits of regionalism. (I'm certainly not sold, but what do I know?) I suspect this is in part due to our form of government. We've put major policy decisions in the hands of an unelected city manager. Dohoney doesn't campaign and doesn't worry about gaining broad-based community support; instead, to keep his job, he needs only to keep the mayor and the nine members of Council happy. Mayor Mallory has not made the creation of a water authority part of his election campaign, leaving him room to distance himself from Dohoney's work on the issue. He also can't be held responsible for the latest CMHA pick. As always, our "stronger mayor" form of government permits our elected leaders to use the city manager as a trial balloon and scapegoat.

Maybe regionalism really is the right way to go. Maybe it will bring us better, more cost-efficient government. But the City Manager hasn't been busy enough selling City residents on this premise. And until he does, he's going to continue to run into brick walls (and petition drives).

Looking For the Modern Rock 500 on

Have no fear, the Modern Rock 500 will be going on this week, but this year they are moving to weekdays so more listeners can hear it online at WOXY Vintage. Here are the times:

Tues, May 26 @ 9am #500 - 376
Weds, May 27 @ 9am #375 - 251
Thurs, May 28 @ 9am #250 – 126
Friday, May 29 @ 9am #125 - 1

Each segment will be immediately repeated. Even modern rock traditions live on, just in new and improved ways. Now you can listen during Fringe!

Streetcars and Taste

I'd been trying to figure out what would happen to a Cincinnati streetcar during Taste of Cincinnati (and Oktoberfest).  The streetcar would cross Fifth Street twice, on Walnut (going south) and on Main (going north).  Both of these intersections are closed this weekend and during Oktoberfest.  Here's the answer from the feasibility study:

How will the system operate when there are street closures for special events?
The system will continue to run according to its normal route and schedule, except in areas that are temporarily closed. As the design progresses, optional turnouts may be designed to accommodate special event street closures. This will enable the streetcar to maintain service in the rest of the system during these brief special events.
How will that work, though?  Does this mean building a line connecting Walnut and Main via Sixth, Seventh, or another street north of Fifth?  The streetcars are designed to only travel one way on a particular track; you can't just have the streetcar come down Walnut to Fifth, stop, and reverse course.  (And even if you could, it would run into another southbound streetcar in a few minutes).

Anyone have a better handle on this?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cole Case Also Shows Dual Justice System

You've heard by now that Cincinnati councilmember Laketa Cole was recently involved in a traffic stop while riding her motorcycle and that during the stop, she contacted the City Manager and an assistant chief of police regarding the conduct of the police officers' who were issuing her and her companion tickets.  The media has insinuated that Cole abused her position in making these calls.

I'll accept as true the statements by Cole and Milton Dohoney that Cole sought no favors during her phone calls.  She got a ticket and her companion's motorcycle was impounded (and he was cited for a first-degree misdemeanor traffic offense).  I'll accept that Cole did not attempt in any way to improve her position or avoid a ticket.  But the case still illustrates that there's two justice systems:  one for a very small percentage with some sort of admission ticket to it, and one for the rest of us.

Being stopped by the police, even for a traffic offense, makes many people quite nervous.  A lot of people, armed with cell phones, will call someone during the stop.  Usually, though, it's family or friends.  Some will even call an attorney.  Cole, though, is lucky.  She's part of Cincinnati's power structure, and had other members of the power structure on speed dial.

Sure, the average citizen could dial 411 during a stop, get the number to City Hall, and try to get the City Manager, an assistant chief, or even the mayor on the line to talk about what was happening.  But would their call be taken at the particular moment?  Probably not.  Once again, we see that people with money or power (and my sense is that Cole primarily has the latter) are able to access resources unavailable to the rest of us.  Cole wanted to make sure officers called the right kind of tow truck to haul away her friend's motorcycle (other than with a flatbed, how can you tow a crotch rocket?).  She made a call to make sure that happened.  It was a natural reaction.  But the rest of us would have simply been at the mercy of police to do their jobs properly (which, quite frankly, they generally do).

Was Cole wrong to make the calls she made that day?  I don't know.  Probably not.  But it's telling that she was able to get attention to which 98 percent of motorists in a similar predicament wouldn't have been entitled.  This isn't about a particular city official or politician, but is instead about our system of government and justice.  Such access should be available to everyone or no one.  I'm not sure how to fix the disparity--or even that it's fixable--but I'm quite sure it's not one we should be proud of.

Widmer Case Illustrates Dual System of Justice

When former Bearcats coach Andy Kennedy was arrested late last year, I argued that the manner in which the case was proceeding was an excellent demonstration of justice for sale in America:  in other words, people in the criminal justice system often get exactly as much justice as they can afford.

To an extent, the Ryan Widmer case also serves as a stark example of our dual system of justice.  Leave aside the pre-trial and trial proceedings.  Widmer was able to afford high-priced private counsel, as well as a nationally-known forensics expert.  (Indigent defendants only get access to such experts when the court approves it, and then must sometimes demonstrate to the court a "need" for such experts.)  Forget all that, for the moment.  Focus instead on what's happened since Widmer's conviction.

Look at recent events.  The press coverage has been extraordinarily sympathetic to Widmer, who is now a convicted murderer.  (It helps, perhaps, that Sarah's family seems to have no interest in engaging the media.)  Hundreds have attended a candlelight vigil to "support" Ryan.  One expects, of course, Ryan's family and close friends to be heartbroken and moved to action by the verdict.  But people who have no discernible connection to Widmer and who certainly didn't sit through the trial or read the transcript are publicly lamenting the verdict as well.  What's more, before the ink was even dry on the verdict form, two high-powered appellate attorneys (including the director of the Ohio Innocence Project) had signed on to the defense team.

If Widmer weren't so upper-middle class, young, attractive, and white, would we see this outpouring of support for him?  I certainly don't mean to make race the sole factor here, as this is probably driven at least as much, if not more, by economic and social class.  (No one showed any sympathy a few years ago for Liz Carroll, although there was evidence that of the three involved in her foster-son's death, she was the least culpable yet received the harshest result; Liz was poor and white.)  And I don't mean to question the appellate attorneys' motives (OIP has been a tremendous force for reversing wrongful convictions in its few years of existence, and the other attorney involved devotes a significant portion of his practice to indigent criminal appeals).   But would the media coverage have been quite so favorable if the alleged murderer were poor or black (or both)?  Would the injustice of the conviction even showed up on the community's radar screen?

I have no idea whether Ryan Widmer murdered his wife.  I didn't sit through the trial and didn't read a transcript of it.  I'm bothered by the revelation of juror experimentation.  But the case leaves me wishing that the State was subject to such scrutiny in all criminal cases, not just the ones where the defendant is a young, affluent, white suburbanite.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Haap and Jeffre Alter Position on Anti-Streetcar Petition

In a surprise move, Jason Haap and Justin Jeffre have published a blog post where they state they believe the language of the existing petition to amend the City Charter to force a public vote on all passenger rail transit goes too far. I guess Haap and Jeffre didn't read the language before they threw their support behind it. Recent reports, including an opinion from Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, believe that the language on the ballot measure would prevent the city from participating in the high speed rail plan put forth by the Federal Government.

Due Diligence is far too often skipped when emotion and ego are the guiding force of action.

Cincinnati Will Miss Pierce, Even If It Doesn't Know It Yet

I was disappointed to see Griff's post reporting on Margo Pierce's upcoming departure from CityBeat.  For some time, Ms. Pierce has been writing on issues in Cincinnati that no one else is bringing to light.

I've not always agreed with Ms. Pierce, but I will certainly notice her absence.  Of all the reporters in Cincinnati, she's the only one who regularly writes in-depth stories on our criminal justice system--and she does so with a keen insight lacking in the "mainstream media."

Writing for print publication is tough.  (I should know....I was recently invited to write for a print publication, and crapped out.  I've apparently gotten too used to this blog and legal briefs to write anything that is (a) longer than a few sentences, and (b) of even moderate interest to a general audience.)  But Ms. Pierce does so with much skill, and her voice will be missed in Cincinnati.

Margo Pierce Leaving CityBeat

News writer Margo Pierce has announced she is leaving CityBeat. No word on her next step or the paper's plan to replace her, or not.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Know Founder to Leave Company

Know Theatre Founder Jay Kalagayan will leave the company by Fall. This is sad news for the theatre community and those of us who have been fans and supporters of the Know Theatre for many years.

Jay is the Know the Theatre. His commitment to it over 12 years is an amazing testament to him as a person. He took a small troop and built it up into an institution. I can't look past the many times I spent drinking a beer with Jay and his conversation went to the theatre, either promoting the next show, seeking volunteers, or looking for something he could procure for the actors/staff. A joke often shared amongst his friends was that Jay was able to feed some of his staff, particularity a skinny technical director, who was keep alive with the endless Chipotle free burrito coupons Jay was able to collect.

Jay has wonderful family who will really enjoy more time with him. I expect Jay will move on to new exciting things, but he'll still end up at the theater for a show or just to check on his creation. I personally want to wish Jay the best of luck.

For more check out this from the Dayton Daily News.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Widmer Decision Due

The decision on Ryan Widmer's motion for a new trial is due out any minute.

My prediction: the motion will be denied. I'll explain my reasoning a little later, once the decision is out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That Explains It....

For some time, the Enquirer has been holding up as its "poster child" of deferred sentences due to jail overcrowding a woman convicted of leaving the scene of an accident and driving under a suspended license.  Several months ago, she was sentenced to serve 180 days in jail.  Because of the lack of jail space, she was released and told to come back later.  

During her release, she's apparently been charged with driving under a suspended license.  That was a dumb thing to do--especially because under the rules about the way cases are assigned, she ends up back in front of the same judge that wanted her to do six months in jail.  (He made sure she stayed locked up today.)

I haven't understood why this is the case the Enquirer decided needed so much attention.  Yes, the woman drove without a license, hit and injured a bicyclist (unintentionally), and left the scene of the accident.  But there have been people convicted of arguably more serious offenses (at least to the extent they involve assault, an intentionally violent offense) who have been released despite being ordered to serve time.  Why not pick out one of those cases?

The answer, perhaps, comes in today's story.  For the first time (or at least the first time I've noticed), the Enquirer offers a little bit of a description of the bicyclist who was injured in the car accident:

He or she is a photographer for the Enquirer.

I guess maybe it's not so hard to figure out why that case is garnering so much ink, after all.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cincinnati Acclaim Awards: May 21st

Come out and support Cincinnati Theatre by attending the Cincinnati Acclaim Awards:

2009 Acclaim Awards
Celebrating the Best of Cincinnati's 2008-2009 Theatre Season

Presented By
The Enquirer with the League of Cincinnati Theatres

Hosted by Cincinnati Arts Association

Aronoff Center for the Arts
650 Walnut Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009

6:30 PM
Pre-Show reception for Host Level and Higher
By-the-bite appetizers by Bootsy's, JeanRo Bistro, McCormick & Schmick's,
Morton's, Nicholson's, Oceanaire, Washington Platform and Via Vite.

7:30 PM
Acclaim Awards Program
See a list of category winners to date

9:00 PM
After-Party for Acclaim winners and supporters

General Admission: $25
Theatre Artists: $10
Host/Hostess: $100 includes pre-show reception

(513) 621-2787

David Pepper's Hat Is In the Ring

Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper is running for State Auditor. He is not is not running for reelection to the County Comission. Who will run for that seat? Do I really need to say anyone else's name other than John Cranley?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dogs and Cats Living Together

First we had the civil union between Chris and Chris, Smitherman of the NAACP and Finney of COAST. Now we have Simon Leis coming to the defense of David Pepper.

Larry Flynt and Phil Burress better stay away from each other or the world will end.

And furthermore:
Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Paying Your Dues

Here is how council candidates do it. You start off by running an independent campaign for council. You don't win, but you show what you have to run a campaign. If you do well enough, in two years you get an endorsement for a party, which gives you a real chance for getting on council. You most likely lose again, unless you organize/fundraise extremely well, but then you get appointed or elected the third time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Downtown Lunch Spots

Where are the best or most unique Lunch spots in the Downtown/OTR area? I normally don't get a chance to eat lunch during the week Downtown, but I have a week off in early June, so I am planning on going out for lunch often (I'm on vacation after all), but want to try new places. So, what are you suggestions?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

CincyFringe - Pick Your Shows!

What shows are you going to see at this year's Cincinnati Fringe Festival? A full list is here.

Do show titles affect your pick? This year a few titles will either stiffen your attention or repel you completely. For example:
Assholes and Aureoles, presented by InterAction Theater, Inc. (Bloomington, IN)

Also, you know Ken Ham (of the Creation Museum) has to see Brother Bailey's Pageant of Moral Superiority and Creation Science Jamboree, presented by Ornamental Messiah Productions. (Jackson, TN)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

It Looks Bad For Portman and DeWine

Poll results show a clear problem for Republicans in Ohio.

Ohio is a fickle state, but at the present, the Dems have a statewide dominance. It will only take a drop in Obama's poll number to drag down Ohio Dems, but that is all that will make it possible (outside of individual candidates screwing up). The Ohio GOP can try a culture war, but I think they will loose. Portman and DeWine are not culture warriors and wouldn't be able to stomach it. At this very early point, I don't see a way to win that doesn't involve the totally collapse of the support for the President.

Kevin Osborne Appears To Be Bored

CityBeat Reporter Kevin Osborne appears to have little else to do except waste his time by feeding the ego that has taken human form in that of Jason Haap, aka the "Dean of Cincinnati."

Does anyone truthfully not understand why any political or civic organization would question the honesty and intentions of a Jason Haap or Justin Jeffery membership request? They are out for attention in any form possible (yes, I know I am giving them more) and their apparent goal of adhering to principle is about as honest a quest as the CityBeat News reporters claiming they operate without a massive political and often personal bias toward their journalistic subjects.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

CincyFringe BigBrainer - THE END?

Is this the End of BigBrainer? Will our heroic scientists survive love, sex, drinking, and slapstick hilarity?

If you wan to find out if this is the real end of series, you will have to get your Full Frontal Pass for the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. They are for sale now on the fringe website:

The festival and your road to hilarity starts on May 26th!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New United Way Campaign

Kate the Great needs a diaper.

Err, no, that's not quite right. She just wants a diaper. Or she wants you to buy other people a diaper.

Seriously....the United Way has a new campaign: the Give 5 -- Diaper Drive. The idea is to give five bucks, which the Greater Cincinnati United Way will then spend on diapers. The diapers will be given to a bunch of local agencies who will distribute them to needy families in Cincinnati.

It's not a need that people like me (single and childless) typically think about, but it makes sense that this is an unmet-need for poor families. So go check out KRM or the United Way site for the details. There's also some sort of twitter thing, but not being hip enough for that, I'm sticking with the websites.

Off With Our Noses!

I have to admit: I haven't followed the whole "Let's Dissolve Amelia" thing terribly closely. I know it began when Amelia leaders proposed a village income tax. But I never understood why the solution was to disband the entire village, rather than to just exact revenge (at the polls) on the mayor and others.

Will Amelians really get better representation as township members? Won't their votes be diluted if the village is swallowed by two larger political subdivisions? It just seems a little bit like voting for dissolution is cutting off voters' noses to spite their faces....

The Race Is On

The Hamilton County GOP has announced that it is endorsing Brad Wenstrup for Cincinnati mayor. His resume is interesting, although unconventional. He's an Iraq war veteran who's never held elected office. Currently, he's a podiatrist.

The only thing that I know about his take on any issues, based on the Enquirer's coverage and his own website, is that he opposes the streetcar proposal. That'll turn about ten percent of City residents (and 90% of this blog's readership) into rabid opponents and another ten percent into faithful supporters. Most people (me, for instance) aren't going to be driven to the polls based on a candidate's stance on the streetcar (I'm just not going to get worked up over a proposal that has little chance of coming into fruition, given the difficulty of finding private investment dollars in the current economic climate).

I'm not sure that Dr. Wenstrup's lack of experience is a critical issue, given the relative weakness of the mayor under the current charter. Day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts executive operations are really handled by the city manager. So it'll be interesting to see what Wenstrup's positions on various issues are, and what he sees as the mayor's top priorities over the next four years.

So unless another candidate comes forward, it looks like the mayor's race will be Wenstrup vs. Mallory. Mallory is the clear favorite at this early stage, but I hope the election will at least provide the opportunity for interesting debate regarding competing visions for the city.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Best of Taste Awards

Polly Campbell has the round-up on the 2009 "Best of Taste" winners. You may remember that last year, we (well, Julie, really, but I agreed) were off-put by awards taken by national chain restaurants. That's not a problem this year: all of the winning dishes are from local restaurants.

Can someone tell me how I've been oblivious to Vitor's Bistro, which apparently has the most decadent French toast on the planet?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Back To Blogging, And A Shout-Out

Those of you who pay attention to who posts what know that I've not blogged much (if at all) in the last week or so.  That's because for most of that time, I've been feeling pretty sick.  We don't do much personal blogging here, but I wanted to share what's been up, and also to thank a very talented group of people who are responsible for me being back to the blog.

Since last weekend (at least), I'd not been feeling well at all.  I'd tried to convince myself it was the flu or a cold (or even the bubonic plague), but by this past Thursday, I finally had to get real about what was going on.  My heart was constantly racing, and walking more than a few yards at a time made me short of breath (by which I mean feel-like-you've-run-a-mile-short-of-breath).  And finally Thursday, I thought I felt a couple of twinges of chest pain.  That's what finally sent me where I should have gone days earlier--to the emergency room at UC Hospital.

Going to the hospital was the right thing to do.  But it also initiated what was the scariest couple of hours of my life.  When you walk into the ER of a major, urban hospital, you're supposed to have to wait for a bit.  But upon hearing my complaints, taking my pulse, and noting how pale I was, the nurses took me right back (in a wheelchair, no less).  I was immediately connected to a heart monitor.  More scariness:  the alarm on the monitor was going off.  And I'm far from a medical expert, but I knew a pulse of 165 was a bad thing.  My mind wasn't put at ease when I realized that "pacing pads" were stuck to my chest, just in case my heart needed to be shocked back to health.  And having oxygen administered (just the tube that runs into your nose, not the full mask) doesn't exactly make one feel healthy.

Through it all, though, the amazing group of doctors and nurses on duty that day made the situation bearable.  They explained to me what was going on, what was concerning to them, and what they thought might be wrong.  And when they decided on a course of treatment (an intravenous medicine designed to "reset" the heart rate), a cardiologist explained the reasons for the decision, the possible side effects (hearing the words "shockable rhythm" applied to yourself is a singular experience), and exactly what was about to happen.  Just in case that "shockable rhythm" came about, a team of at least six doctors and nurses was standing by.  Knowing that was in equal measures terrifying and comforting.

It turned out that I was suffering from a cardiac arrythmia.  It's not life-threatening.  It'll probably recur, and usually it will fix itself.  (And when it doesn't, it's unwise to wait several days to see a doctor:  I realize now I'm quite lucky I didn't pass out.)  The doctors and nurses had me fixed up and back on my feet in a few hours.  I was able to walk back to my friend's car without having to stop to catch my breath.  And that night, I slept amazingly well.  (I hadn't during the time I was in the arrythmia--imagine trying to sleep with your heart beating about twice as fast as it should.)  And finding out that I hadn't had a heart attack (a blood test of my "cardiac enzymes" was fine, as was my blood pressure) was a tremendous relief.

Early into my ER visit, I'd become convinced I was gravely ill, given my symptoms and the attention of the staff.  I wasn't.  But I could have been.  And if I were, I cannot imagine a place I'd rather receive medical care.  The doctors and nurses were great.  They treated me (and all the patients with whom I saw them interact) with a great deal of respect and compassion, even laughing at my truly lame jokes.  After a normal heart rate had been restored, an ER doc and two cardiologists each took the time to explain my condition, what to do about it in the future, and preventative treatment options.  Thanks to all of them, I've been able to spend the last couple days making up for lost sleep.  (I'd almost forgotten what it was like to sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up to your own heartbeat.)

I also need to thank a couple of very good friends who helped pick up some slack at work for me over the last week (even though I was in denial about my health), and who were responsible for getting me to and from the hospital.  You guys know who you are.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

So this weekend, I'm grateful to have some great friends who were looking out for me.  I'm also pleased to be living just minutes away from UC Hospital, where a bunch of people are always looking out for all of us.

Friday, May 01, 2009

CincyFringe - Big Brainer IV is Here

There is no Time to not waste on this, but Your Future depends on going back and there is no escape from this really unfunny comment.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Triantafilou is a Gutless Wuss

The Enquirer's Political Blog has the original graphic used on the Hamilton County GOP Chairman's Blog post, where Triantaflilou pictured a bald cancer survivor (Sen. Arlen Spector) compared to Mike Myers as "Dr. Evil." Now the attack post on Sen. Arlen specter now has a graphic with a big read "Censored" on it. This change of graphic came after Triantafilou rightfully came under attack for making fun of Specter's hair loss after cancer treatment.

Stop misleading the public, Alex, YOU CENSORED YOURSELF. did not force you to do anything, unless they felt a copyright violation occurred with the use of the "Dr. Evil" picture which you likely used without permission. Pretending that someone else censored your blog is a joke, which is clearly your intent.

In all seriousness, how sad is it for a local political leader to be so petty as to make a childish post in the first place? This isn't an Ohio Senator, so the impact locally is non-existent. Instead of taking the time to post about national politics, why doesn't Triantafilou think about local politics? If he had the time to waste on this, no wonder the local GOP can only field 5 candidates for council and haven't put up a Republican for Mayor.

If this all the GOP political leaders can do, write blog posts, then I would suggest they are done in Hamilton County. This might be a good time for the local GOP to find someone else to run their party. If they don't, well, they can keep the egg on their face, and keep losing city and more County elections to Democrats.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Streetcars Guest Column

Check out a very positive column for Streetcars in the Enquirer.

Berding Not in the CIA or FBI

I know the masses out there kinda assumed there is something odd going on with Councilman Jeff Berding, but I think we can trust this statement from his office declaring he is not part of the CIA or FBI, no matter what Chris Smitherman cares to speculate on the radio.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Chris Smitherman make some other nutty claim. What is next? Is the Mayor part of the KKK? Is Jim Tarbell really a member of the Real IRA?

Monday, April 27, 2009

'Good Guys' Loitering

How well is this type of effort going to work in the long run? Does this just drive the trouble makers someplace else? In this case can people tell if the bad element generally lived in Westwood, or were they coming in from other areas? If they are local, this may have a lasting effect. If they are not from Westwood, then that bad element will find someplace else to go.

I like this idea, but how much time does it take to make a lasting effect? Once this group stops, will the street corner just go back to the way it was?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

COAST Gets NAACP Contribution

So the Cincinnati Beacon has the PAC Campaign Finance Report from last year for COAST, the extremist conservative anti-tax and what I call anti-government group. On that report it lists a contribution of 3,000 from the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP last November. This contribution was made last October, according to the report, which was during the issue campaign that both COAST and the NAACP worked together on for the failed Charter Amendment to enact Proportional Representation in Cincinnati.

Does this constitute an endorsement of COAST by the Local NAACP? Or is this just evidence of the collaboration effort which was much more intertwined than average members of each group would have been told?

Friday, April 24, 2009

MidPoint Indie Summer On the Square

The Midpoint Music Festival is teaming up with Fountain Square for the Indie Summer Music Series and CityBeat has announced the initial list. Highlights for me are

June 5th - Lions Rampant at 9PM
July 10th - Pomegranates at 9PM
July 17th - Wussy at 10 PM
July 24th - Bad Veins at 10 PM for their CD Release Show.

This music series is one of the best things on the Square and I personally look forward to nearly every Friday walking down to the square for a few beers and some great local music.

Keep your eyes on or their MySpace Page for updates.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Findlay Market Modifies Hours

Historic Findlay Market shifrts weekday hours to 9 AM to 6 PM Tuesday to Friday, which adds on Tuesday. They are also adding an hour on Sunday Mornings, Weekend hours are 6 AM to 6 PM on Saturday and 10 AM to 4 PM on Sunday.

Bankers Club Closing

I am sure the economy will be blamed for the closing of the Bankers Club, but who under 40 would rather go to an old fashioned stuffy club over someplace like Nada or Via Vite?

More from the Enquirer.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Song Remains The Same

Once a name for something has taken hold, it sticks. This is not a surprise in the least. If the name "The Banks" was so horrible, then it should have been excluded. I actually voted for the River District. Is that any better? No. If the County put it up to vote to rename Great American Ball Park and Great American Ball Park was included as an option, then when it would win, there shouldn't be any shock. The Banks was branded and just ask a steer, that branding doesn't go away.

CincyFringe - Big Brainer Episode II

It is starting to get a little hot in the Big Brainer House. I'm wondering who is going to be condemned to death first.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Great American Tower Impact On Reds?

Last weekend, I watched the Reds beat the Pirates, 2-0, from a sun-soaked, right field seat. As the back of my neck burned, I couldn't help but notice the crane, which is installed for the Great American Tower construction, looming over the ballpark.

And I wondered: will the Great American Tower impact games at Great American Ballpark? Is it close enough to block wind from the north (keeping balls from carrying out to right on a day they otherwise might do so)? Or instead, will the wind move around the Tower and become stronger (some sort of wind tunnel effect) by the time it gets to the stadium? Or will the new building have no impact at all, apart from giving folks in the sun deck something to look at between innings?

And speaking of looking at the building, will all that glass create a glare/reflection during day games that could distract a right-fielder (or first- or second-baseman) trying to catch a pop fly?

Anyone have any answers? And how cool would it be to watch part of a game from the "tiara"? (That is, of course, once we come up with a more manly word for the top of Cincinnati's tallest building than the tiara....)

UC Law Holds Steady In New Rankings

Several websites are reporting that the 2010 US News & World Report law school rankings have been leaked. Assuming the authenticity of the reported rankings, the University of Cincinnati College of Law will be ranked the 52nd program in the nation (it received the same ranking for 2009). While normally a ranking outside the top 50 would be (and for the past several years has been) a disappointment for UC, holding serve is likely a relief, given the school's horrific 2008 bar results.

Other top-100 law schools people around here might care about: Kentucky will be 55, up 4 spots from last year; Ohio State will be 35, down 3 spots; Indiana will be 23, up 13 spots; Pitt will be 72, up 2; Case Western will be 55, up 8, and Louisville will be 98, down 2.

Ohio's six other law schools (Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Capital, Ohio Northern, and Cleveland-Marshall) all sit outside the top 100, as does Chase (NKU).

(Hat tip: TaxProf Blog.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

DHL Express Going Back to CVG

Business is tough on communities. Wilmington, OH has been facing tough times, but Northern Kentucky is getting a boost. Almost 4 years ago DHL Express moved out of CVG in favor of Wilmington, a consolidation of DHL operations. Northern Kentucky knows how Wilmington feels. In today's world, businesses can and often have to move where they can make better profits. They don't have to look at the big picture of a community. It is a cold way of living, but in the end businesses are not people, they are owned and managed by people, but those people don't have to face living next door to anyone losing their ability to make a living.

I am glad 800 jobs are moving here. I feel bad for Wilmington. I would feel worse if those 800 jobs went out of the area. What communities, mainly small communities, have to deal with: don't be a one one horse town.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Sex Offenders": Another Approach

We've been discussing (both here on the blog and throughout our community) what to do with convicted sex offenders once they've served their time. California is one of a slowly growing number of states to decide that with respect to a particular subset of sex offenders--pedophiles--the best course of action is to declare them mentally ill and place them in a "hospital" for treatment. Here's a report on one of these facilities.

To be clear, I'm not advocating this approach: I just found it in interesting in the wake of recent events and debate.

(Hat tip: Althouse.)

Is Issue Five Being Tested?

Something odd is happening in the top ranks of the Cincinnati Police Division, and it's not clear to me that anyone really has a handle on it. I also haven't seen anyone asking some important questions about how what's happening comports--or conflicts--with the City Charter.

Jane Prendergast blogs that Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher has created a new job for Assistant Chief Richard Janke. The move was made because Janke allegedly raised his voice to another assistant chief and was disrespectful towards Streicher himself.

Ordinarily, a little rearranging in the upper police ranks wouldn't be too interesting. But assistant chiefs aren't like captains or lieutenants. That's because assistant chiefs are appointed by the city manager, not the chief. That's a result of the passage of Issue 5 by city voters back in 2001. (When Chief Streicher leaves his post, he too will be replaced by the city manager.) This is spelled out in Article V, Section 5 of the Charter. (We've previously discussed Issue Five here.)

Until Chief Streicher's unilateral decision to reorganize the department, CPD had five bureaus (Patrol, Resource, Administration, Investigations, and Information Management) each headed by an assistant chief. Lt. Col. Janke previously headed the Administration Bureau, but is now being moved to something new called a "Special Projects Bureau" in an effort to limit "the necessity for him to interact with his peers and subordinates." Remember: if Chief Streicher simply demoted Janke, leaving the position in charge of the Administration Bureau vacant, his replacement would be appointed by Milton Dohoney (and perhaps "burdening" the Chief with an assistant he likes even less). Instead, the Chief has radically redefined Janke's job duties, ostensibly leaving no assistant chief vacancy.

To me, this all raises the following questions:
  • Does the Chief has the authority to change the organizational table in this way? A knee-jerk response would be "of course," but I'm not sure it's that simple. At the very least, the number of assistant chiefs is fixed by Council; we have five chiefs only because the City--not the Chief--created an additional position in 2004.
  • Assuming the Chief has this authority, at one point does he so limit the authority of an assistant chief that he's not really an "assistant chief" any longer?
  • If the Chief has, in fact, made Janke a de facto non-chief (albeit with the rank of lieutenant colonel), can the City Manager declare the creation of a vacancy and use his authority under the Charter to fill it?
  • Finally, is Janke grieving this or otherwise appealing it through civil service laws (since--I believe--he was grandfathered into his position and is not himself subject to Article V, Section 5)? Or is this a non-grievable, non-appealable decision in that it (apparently) doesn't impact Janke's rank or pay?
This could quickly become a messy, thorny thicket. The charitable part of me wants to believe that Chief Streicher, while dissatisfied with Lt. Col. Janke's work, wants to spare him (given his decades of service to CPD) the embarassment and financial cost of demotion. But my more cynical instincts suspect that the Chief has essentially ended Janke's tenure as an assistant chief, but done so in a way to deprive the City Manager of the ability to make an appointment.

Or maybe there's nothing at all going on here, and I'm just procrastinating rather than organizing my messy desk on a Saturday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

UC Law Alum Gets Promoted

Cris Collinsworth, a 1991 alumnus of the University of Cincinnati College of Law, has been named as John Madden's replacement on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

Perhaps an even more impressive honor for Cris: on May 10th, he will be the graduation speaker at UC Law's 2009 Hooding Ceremony.

UPDATE (4/16/09 at 7:00): Fifth word of the post corrected to limit the shame I caused my high school Latin teacher.

Free Legal Advice: A Corollary

A little over a year ago, I offered the readers of this blog some free legal advice:

Don't steal from the blind guy visually-impaired gentleman who runs the deli at the courthouse!

It seems that an addendum is in order. Here it is:

Don't steal the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney's lunch! it apparently wasn't his lunch, but instead belonged to an investigator in the office. But it allegedly happened three times. Getting the munchies once is understandable, but three times? You're not working in a normal office, you're working for prosecutors. Did you think they wouldn't, after their food disappeared a second time, use their investigative skills to see why their pizza stash was dissipating overnight?

And you're right: at any other job, you'd be admonished. Maybe you'd even be fired. (This isn't exactly an employees' job market, if you haven't noticed.) But take a prosecutor's lunch, and you're going to jail.

On the flip side, it'd be fun to defend this case to a jury with exactly that thought: Ladies and gentleman of the jury: remember the last time someone took your apple or Coke from the office refrigerator? What do you think would've happened if you'd called the police and tried to press charges? We all know that when you stash your food in a communal refrigerator, you assume the risk that your food will be consumed by a greedy office-mate.

But come on, folks: is a frozen, microwavable pizza really worth the risk of prosecution? There are judges just a few floors up: wasn't there better food in one of their break rooms? And better yet, couldn't you just wait until the end of your shift to eat?

I hope this has been helpful in resolving any questions you might have about the legality and wisdom of committing theft offenses in the Office of the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mmmm, Doughnuts....

So the Enquirer has posted a letter from a woman who believes that the Postal Service's decision to make a Homer Simpson stamp is "highly objectionable."

I wonder if the author realizes that for the last several years, "The Simpsons" is the only network television show whose characters regularly attend church. And what does it say about television--and American religion--that this is the case?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Widmer Revelation: Deja Vu All Over Again

What is it with you people? What part of "don't investigate on your own" don't you understand? Why won't you listen to the judge when he gives you instructions? Did you think following his warnings was optional?

The Enquirer reports that in support of his motion for a new trial, Ryan Widmer's attorney has filed an affidavit from a juror in which that juror claims that other jurors conducted their own experiments to figure out how long it would take someone to air-dry after taking a shower. He also says a juror mentioned that there was water on the edge of the tub hours after she dried her child after a bath.

(For those of you who live under a rock or outside southwestern Ohio: last week, following a two-week trial and over twenty hours of juror deliberations, Widmer was convicted of murdering his wife by drowning her. The defense claimed that he was in another room while his wife bathed, and that she likely had a seizure while in the tub and slipped under water while unconscious.)

Jurors aren't allowed to experiment. But we also tell jurors that they don't have to leave their everyday experiences at the door to the jury room. So I'm not bothered that a juror might mention that she gave her kid a bath, and that the bathroom was still wet some hours later. That's part of your normal life experiences. We wouldn't expect a juror in a drunk-driving case to forget about his observations of drunk people in the past or forbid him from comparing those to a defendant in a police video. But intentionally experimenting to try to figure out a body's air-drying time? That seems--to me, at least--off-limits. And it might mean a do-over for Widmer.

If a court agrees that a new trial is warranted, it wouldn't be the first time a Tri-State verdict in a high-profile case was set aside because of jurors' actions. One of the most famous instances of juror experimentation took place over a quarter-century ago following the first civil trial regarding the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. The case is included in law school texts on civil procedure. As you might recall, the plaintiffs (represented by Stan Chesley) argued that the fire was caused by aluminum wiring in the restaurant. Following testimony on this issue by the plaintiffs' expert, a juror went home and checked out his own, similar wiring. When the plaintiffs appealed their loss, the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial, writing:
Our decision to reverse is most regretfully made, as the length of time it has taken to reach it may suggest. The trial was generally a fair one, vigorously and effectively presented by able counsel before a skillful and experienced trial judge who cannot be faulted for the events which have occasioned the reversal. We are mindful of the trial judge's observation, earlier stated in an unpublished opinion of this court, that "[e]xperience teaches that while every additional day of trial increases the possibility of error, it correspondingly reduces the risk that any single error may have prejudicial effect upon the ultimate result." Nonetheless, the recited facts of the improper experiment and its use in the jury deliberations are too compelling and too fraught with potential for prejudice to be ignored. [Internal citation omitted.]

I don't know if what happened in the Widmer case rises to the level of what happened in the Beverly Hills trial. Maybe a body's drying time is part of one's ordinary experiences. But here's a tip: if you're on jury duty and selected for a trial, don't conduct your own experiments; decide the case based on the evidence presented in court. You'll save everyone a lot of time, money, and anxiety.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Miami Wins, Makes Final Game!

Miami Hockey is in the championship game after a victory over Bemidji State in the Frozen Four.

Way to go Miami!!!!!!!!!! Repeat after me:
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.

Neckties for the Stars

I'd encourage you to enter this contest, but frankly, I'd rather you didn't: I'm trying to elbow my way into a group date that'll include Kate the Great and Red Kat Blonde (even though they're trying to pretend as if Kwame Jackson is the top draw).

And 5chw4r7z: don't think I haven't noticed that you entered twice.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dems Council Endorsements (Almost)

Via Facebook, the Democratic Party endorsements for City Council are:

Council Members: Laketa Cole, Jeff Berding, Greg Harris, and Cecil Thomas

Candidates: Wendell Young, Laure Quinlivan, Nicholas Hollan, Tony Fischer and Bernadette Watson

UPDATE: I jumped the gun a bit. This is the recommended slate of candidates that still must be approved .

Law Dog Gets Jail

Ken Lawson, a local attorney who gained attention with high profile cases over the years, has been sentenced to 2 years in prison on a drug conspiracy conviction. Lawson was best known as the attorney for Angela Leisure, the mother of Timothy Thomas, the young man killed by police 8 years ago, sparking a riot.

Cincy Fringe is Big Braining

You will not be able to take your eyes off the Cincinnati Fringe Festival Trailers! Here is the first episode.

Any resemblance to actual science, math, or brainpower is strictly a coincidence.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Unintended Consequences

The Enquirer reports that Westwood Concern is upset about an apartment building in which eight registered sex offenders are residing. From the article, it appears that the building is simply a private apartment building at which several sex offenders have chosen to live. Unfortunately, Westwood Concern is probably complaining about the inevitable consequences of our residency laws.

First, let me clear: I like Westwood Concern. I don't always agree with it or its leader, Mary Kuhl, but I respect them for their commitment to their neighborhood and their activism. So please, don't anyone think this is an I-hate-the-West-Side post.

Having said that, though, concentrations of sex offenders in certain neighborhoods--or even buildings--are the logical result of draconian restrictions on where sex offenders can lawfully live. If 60 percent of the city is off-limits--as the Enquirer reports--then that only leaves the remaining 40 percent available to registered sex offenders. Subtract out the portion of that forty percent that is commercial or high-end residential, and sex offenders have few options for housing.

We're certainly not the only community dealing with this issue. Back in 2007, carried a piece regarding a trailer park in Florida that was a safe haven for sex offenders. The answer probably lies in ending the one-size-fits-all approach to monitoring convicted sex offenders. Not all sex offenders are pedophiles. And a sane approach to law enforcement and criminal justice must recognize that. Sadly, Megan's Law and the Adam Walsh Act, while politically satisfying, are ineffective at actually keeping anyone safe.

And finally, people are right to be concerned about the Pogue Center being a collection center for offenders from across the state. According to ODRC's report on the facility, 75% of residents are from Butler, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Greene, Hamilton, Highland, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, and Warren Counties. That's quite a broad area. (And the remaining 25% may come from anywhere in the state.) But it's also important to know that very few Pogue Center residents who are not Hamilton County residents are permitted to remain here once their treatment program is concluded. ORDC reports that in order for a non-resident placed at the VOA to stay here, an offender has to show that he has full-time employment, stable community support, and adequate savings; since 2006, only 3 out-of-county offenders have been permitted to establish residency here at the conclusion of their treatment.

Ultimately, the continued adherence to strict, Adam Walsh-like regimes will lead to sex offender ghettoes. That's not useful, it doesn't protect the public, and it's not in the interest of the community in which the ghetto is created.

Monday, April 06, 2009

New York Times Reports on Cincinnatian's Love Story

On Friday, the Fashion and Style section of the New York Times contained an article on the upcoming nuptials of Cincinnatian Laurence Meade. Why does the Times care about a wedding in the Midwest? Well, it's the logical result of a love story only possible in the twenty-first century. Here's the short version:

Ann Althouse is a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. But more importantly (at least for our tale), she's a blogger who boasts a significant readership. Mr. Meade began reading the blog and began flirting with Professor Althouse in the comments. Eventually, he asked her out (his first, failed attempt was through email, but his second, successful venture was a comment to a post). And the rest, as they say, is history. Professor Althouse has provided something of a roadmap to the Times's chronology. After a first date on Professor Althouse's home turf and a second date at a neutral site, Professor Althouse came to Cincinnati in February. (Peruse many of her posts from that visit here.) While she was here, she accepted Mr. Meade's proposal. My first thought was that the professor fell in love with Graeter's and Montgomery Inn, and that Mr. Meade was just a nice bonus prize, but the Times reports that the couple will reside in Madison.

It's a fun story, and one that makes me smile. I read Professor Althouse's blog frequently, but I have to admit I was fairly clueless about what was going on until other blogs reported it (and I was wondering what would bring her to Cincinnati when I read that she was having a meet-up, which I did not attend--I assumed that UC Law was having some symposium at which she was speaking). That's probably because I read her posts, but usually not the comments to them. Now I'm thinking of skipping the posts and only reading the comments.

And I certainly understand how the professor would finally be willing to relent and grant Mr. Meade a date. I, too, receive countless romantic overtures in the blog comments (this post in particular really cranked up the Love Machine), but I have Griff delete them as soon as they appear so as to maintain our commenters' privacy and dignity. Some day soon, though, I will probably tire of playing hard-to-get and accept one of my would-be-wooers' earnest advances.

Congratulations to Mr. Meade, and best wishes on his upcoming move to the Badger State.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Thoughtful Discussion On Newsmakers This Morning

The video is not yet available, but Channel 12's Dan Hurley led a typically thoughtful discussion on this morning's Newsmakers.  The topic was the VOA, and what should be done with it in the wake of Anthony Kirkland's alleged crimes.  The guests were Margie Slagle of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center and City Councilmember Chris Monzel.

No one will accuse either Griff or me of being Monzel cheerleaders.  But I'll admit:  I was surprised by the thoughtfulness and candidness with which Monzel addressed the issue of how to deal with convicted sex offenders.  I didn't agree with everything Monzel had to say.  (When asked, for instance, where to move the VOA, his suggestion--Lebanon--is one that's clearly non-workable, as there will always be some need to house individuals trying to re-enter society somewhere in Hamilton County.  And he cited a fairly discredited study regarding recidivism rates for sex offenders.)  But Monzel acknowledged something that many politicians--Democrats or Republicans--won't:  treating all sex offenders the same is probably not good public policy.  I was surprised to hear that assertion from him; it's not the typical knee-jerk law-and-order response calculated to win votes.  And it's clear Monzel has given a lot of thought to the issue.

So check back at Channel 12's website for the video in the next couple days and watch it, once it appears.  And will someone from Channel 12 please tell me:  why can't Dan Hurley have a full 60 minutes?  There's no way to thoroughly explore the issues he raises in the fifteen-minute segments available to him (as long as he's not showing pictures of birds).  Certainly, at least during the eight months when the Bengals aren't playing, Hurley could be given the whole 11:00 hour.  Maybe it's time to start a "Sixty Minutes for Hurley" Facebook petition.....

What's Familiar May Not Be Common

Growing up in Buffalo, I knew that some things were particular to that city.  Everyone knew that Buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo (and weren't really available outside western New York twenty years ago), and that beef on weck was something you could get only in Buffalo.  (If you're ever in Buffalo, by the way, try a kummelweck roll; decades after leaving the city, I still crave the delicacy.)

But there were some things I thought were universal that, it turns out, were only regional favorites.  Until I moved away, I'd assumed you could find sponge candy or loganberry (a fruit drink actually bottled by Pepsi in Buffalo) anywhere.  I'd grown up with them; it just seemed natural that everyone else did, too.  I think just about every city has things like that:  items or events that locals take for granted, but about which the rest of the world is clueless.

Cincinnatians know goetta and a chili-like concoction on top of spaghetti are uniquely Cincinnati, of course.  But as my ninth Opening Day in Cincinnati arrives, I wonder whether native Cincinnatians know how  unique our version of Opening Day is.  Do people who grew up here realize that if they were to drive tomorrow to Pittsburgh or Cleveland or even Chicago, Opening Day would be greeted just as any other Monday?  Do you realize that people in other major league towns haven't been paying attention to spring training games?  And that most cities won't have a parade that closes most of their downtown (unless, perhaps, their team won the World Series last year)?

Since I've become a Cincinnatian, Opening Day has become one of my favorite events.  I don't have tickets to the game this year, but I intentionally refrained from scheduling any work events.  So I'll watch the parade from somewhere near Fountain Square, watch the game on TV, and hoist a few beers (unless one of our beloved readers has an extra GABP ticket they'd like to share).  And I'm not the only lawyer who treats the day as an unofficial holiday:  it will be remarkably quiet in the Hamilton County Courthouse Monday afternoon, save for the sound of fireworks emanating about ten blocks south.

So have fun tomorrow, and do so remembering you're probably having much more fun that folks in other major league cities.

Feel free to use the thread to talk about either Opening Day, or to write about the things you'd miss most about Cincinnati if you moved elsewhere.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

It is Still a Joke

Jane Prendergast of the Enquirer is reporting she has confirmed Jason Haap (AKA the Dean of Cincinnati) is not joking when he posted on April Fool's day that he is running for Mayor.

It is still a joke, a waste of time, and a mockery of those who are credible candidates out to do good, instead of to gain attention.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

April Fool's Day Is Not The 2nd

Someone needs to tell the Dean that his Joke was a day late. Yeah, if it is not a joke, than it is just sad and a mockery of our political system.

UPDATE: It appears the Enquirer''s political blog is slow on the take and doesn't read the date on blog posts.

I'm Such A Geek

Like City Beat's Stephen Carter-Novotni, I've been excitedly anticipating the May 8 arrival of the new Star Trek movie. (For those keeping track, this is the eleventh Star Trek movie. But since the release of the first movie in 1979, we are currently in the longest gap between Star Trek movie releases; the last movie was Nemesis, released in late 2002. This is also the first summer release since The Final Frontier, which premiered in 1989.)

So how about today's news that Star Trek will be be in AMC at Newport on the Levee's new IMAX theatre? (Way to bury the lede, Enquirer!)

I'm positively giddy.

Let the hurling of ridicules in my general direction begin.

UPDATE: If anyone at AMC, Star Trek, Paramount Pictures, or anyone else is interested, I'd happily blog about the movie here in exchange for preview or premiere tickets....

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Are You Happy?

Here's an open thread for anyone who wants to tell me how much fun the Cincinnati Imports Happy Hour was tonight.

Because it's 9:00 and I'm still at the freakin' office.

Fool's Day Parade Starts At 11 AM

Be sure to make it Downtown today for the Annual Fool's Day Parade. Floats, bands, and dancing girls! The fun starts at 11 AM. This year Cher is the grand marshal.

Find your place along the route early, space will fill up fast. The Cost is free, but if you want to participate in the parade you can just add your float to the end.

Hope to see everyone there!

(I also hope people can take a joke)