Friday, April 30, 2010

Steve Driehaus Attending Cincinnati Coffee Party Event

The Cincinnati Chapter of the Coffee Party is hosting an event tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 PM at Red Polly Space Outfitters, located on 4016 Hamilton Avenue in Northside.

Organizers state that this event is meant to counter the recent vitriol seen at other events and seek to be respectful and to praise Congressman Driehaus for the efforts of Congress in passing Health Care Reform.
"This event is about engaging local citizenry in open and respectful dialogue. We want to provide people with the basics on how the bill will impact them, those they care about and the communities in which they live," says Leo Pierson, an organizer and official spokesperson of the Coffee Party.
The event is free and open to the public.

Congrats to the Fine Arts Fund For Raising $11 Million!

Cincinnati should be thankful we have organizations like the Fine Arts Fund, but we also should be thank that we as citizens support the efforts of the FAF and open our wallets to help keep the Arts alive in our City. Other places around the country don't fair as well. Their annual campaign ended yesterday by meeting their $11 Million goal, but you could still contribute, they won't turn away your check!

We as a community should be doing more, however. Public funding must be restored as soon as budgets allow. Something to keep in mind when you vote next week and in the Fall: Voting for Republicans in most cases will do noting for the arts. In some cases, like Chris Monzel, voting for the GOP will help end the arts. We still need to push the Democrats to commit to publicly fund the arts. If you were able to get down to the FAF celebration last night and you didn't seem Jim Tarbell, then you must not have been looking. Jim is running for Hamilton County Commissioner and Jim understands the importance of the arts.

MidPoint 2010 Details Revealed

The Midpoint Music Festival is again teaming up with Fountain Square's PNC Music series and has programed a set of national acts as headliners for the summer music series every Friday night. Acts confirmed so far are:
June 4th: Camera Obscura (Glasgow, Scotland)
June 11th: Neon Indian (Austin, TX)
June 18th: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Muscle Shoals, AL)
June 25th: Smoking Popes (Chicago, IL)
July 9th: Why? (Cincinnati, OH)
August 6th: Dawes (North Hills, CA)
Local acts will join these groups and will be announced next month.  Note to local bands: You want to perform on the Square this year, go here and apply. This event has been the center of the Summer Cincinnati Music Scene for the last two years and will continue to be the place to be every Friday night.  For updated schedules for every night of music on Fountain Square, be sure to check out:

For everything Midpoint, you need to memorize the link:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A 2009 Self Assessment From Plum Street Studios

Earlier this month E. Gooding from the Plum Street Studio Blog scored his performance in predicting the 2009 City Election.

The result: he gives himself an A+. Any independent graders care to take a crack at that assessment?

In Tough Times, Monzel is a Dangerous Choice

With the exception of the April 1st post, I've not blogged on the primary races for HamCo Commissioner. That's because the Democratic race is pretty boring (with a fairly obvious outcome). And since I generally consider myself a Democrat (though I've been re-thinking this over the past twelve or so months), I haven't felt the need to wade into the Republican contest.

But HamCo faces tough challenges in the coming years. And last night, it became clear to me that a Chris Monzel victory in November would be disastrous for our region. Let's talk about why.

Last night, the Republican Leadership Council and GOParty! (a Republican YP group) sponsored a debate between Monzel and Leslie Ghiz, hosted at Mainstay and moderated by Newsmakers' Dan Hurley. (Hurley will also host the candidates on his show this Sunday morning.) Monzel's lack of knowledge and dearth of viable solutions to HamCo's problems was stunning, particularly this close to the primary election. (And while I haven't seen the Enquirer report it, the event sponsors announced that Ghiz won the straw poll conducted at the conclusion of the debate.)

The contrast between Ghiz and Monzel was clear. Ghiz offered nuanced answers, the kind that you'd expect from someone who has thought about how to address development, budget, and public safety issues. Monzel, on the other hand, offered nothing but bits of his stump speech. His campaign strategy seemed clear: do nothing but throw out "red meat" to the base, and hope that the voters don't catch on.

There were several instances when it was apparent that Monzel just doesn't have a good grasp on the issues facing Hamilton County. Both candidates were asked about the need for increased jail space. Monzel's solution? Stop housing federal prisoners awaiting trial in federal court. That's an answer that's right out of a "conservative" politician's playbook: a local politician running for office just insists that things would be better without the federal government. But anyone with even the smallest amount of knowledge of the Hamilton County Justice Center and local law enforcement knows the following:
  • At any given time, there are only about a dozen inmates in federal custody at the HCJC. That's hardly the cause of jail overcrowding.
  • The inmates in federal custody are actually revenue generators for the county, as the US Marshall Service pays a per bed/per day rate to house inmates at the HCJC.
  • Over the last several years, local law enforcement has decided that one of the more effective ways of curbing drug and gun trafficking is to work with federal authorities and seek federal indictments, as federal law carries stiffer mandatory minimum sentences. For that to happen, those inmates have to be somewhere while they wait for their federal trials. Does Monzel want to get rid of ReNU and other joint task forces?
I could go on and on, talking about issue after issue about which Monzel just hasn't given much thought. What's truly disappointing is the utter disrespect with which Monzel treated Republican voters last night. Clearly, Monzel thinks that his constituents and fellow party members are mindless sheep just waiting to hear the right applause line. (I know that some of the more left-leaning readers of this blog will also hold that opinion of the GOP, but it's just not true.) Monzel doesn't trust the electorate. He doesn't trust its ability to understand that complicated issues don't have ten-word answers. He doesn't trust that his fellow citizens are smart enough to want to eat their veggies along with their "red meat."

On the other side of last night's stage, Ghiz offered a clear alternative. She acknowledged--several times--that our most serious challenges don't have "easy answers." She understands the need for everyone in county government to work together for the good of our community. And she realizes that not everything is black-and-white. Her discussion of the streetcar was a good example. She refused simply to ridicule the notion of a streetcar. She said--as she has in the past--that while the streetcar may be a good idea, it's not a good idea now, analogizing to a homeowner who needs to renovate the kitchen, but needs to put it off because of the tough economy. (That's a position the streetcar crowd will disagree with. Fine. But it's a reasonable position that shows thought and maturity on a tough subject.) There's one thing you can always be sure of with Ghiz: when she speaks, you're hearing what she really believes, not what her party wants her to say or what she thinks will help her with a particular contested enclave of voters.

Monzel isn't ready to be part of a governing majority. He's best suited to be a back-bencher, part of a small minority. That way he's free to offer terrible ideas, like his proposed tax on people who use sidewalk trashcans. Ghiz is ready to lead Hamilton County with passion and wisdom, both of which were evident last night.

Disclosure: I've known Leslie Ghiz for several years, and consider her a friend. My friendship alone, however, would not be sufficient to endorse her in the primary race.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ForkHeartKnife Opening Soon on Main St.

In May look for forkheartknife to start their catering services adding flavor to the Over-the-Rhine and Downtown business and arts scene. Additionally they are planning to serve varied and flexible meals at their OTR space.

The new business is taking over the North Main Street location (1437 Main Street) used by the former incarnation of Take the Cake.

Keep eyes on their blog at: for more.

Butler Count Sheriff's New Greeting: Papers Please

I am a fan of old movies.  I love 1930's,1940's, and early 1950's era films especially.  I would guess the Butler County Sheriff, Rick Jones, hasn't seen many of those films, particularly the ones with Nazis, Fascists, or Stalinists in them.  Those types of films were, in that era, depicting those that our country was fighting against.  In those cases "Papers Please" was a phrase used when ever the oppressive police force would randomly question anyone they wanted.  If they didn't like what they saw, or just wanted to take you in, they would trump up an excuse and haul you into Gestapo Headquarters.

Yes, I'm describing cliche movie scenes, but ones that were based on reality.  History is on the brink of repeating itself and I for one am not going to play the part of the innocent resident of Munich  who refused to speak up.

Rick Jones needs to watch one of those pictures.  He needs to understand what oppressive police powers are and that our county has a long, long history of fighting against policies he wants to use in Ohio.  The Arizona 'immigration' law would have been well received in 1939 Germany.  We don't need anyone pretending to be stewards of the law using fascist methods.  While this position by Sheriff Jones doesn't surprise me, it still sickens me.  I don't want Fascism to run my State or my Country. We need sane people to stand up to the Jones' of Ohio.

In this election year, the problem we have is that on the Right, there are few who will stand up.  Even fewer of those running for office.  The GOP needs someone to hate, and Mexicans are one of their targets.  It is sad that this is what many in the GOP will run on. I hope they don't, but they seem to be against all forms of hope these days.

A side note: If a local Democrat running for office endorses this law, speak up, so I can make sure you get as few votes as possible.

Doers, Not Just Talkers

What I find most interesting and most telling about most of the YP Groups featured in this Enquirer article by Larua Baverman is that they focus on one area, say dinning at local restaurants, and then do it. They are Doer's. They don't talk about getting people together to talk about what needs to happen, they instead get things done. Historically many YP groups have not defined what their goals are and then failed to do much beyond a meet and greet or happy hour. Having personally been part of a YP group that tried to get many things done, with some success and some failure, I am glad to see groups succeeding. I really would get discouraged when I would attend other YP events and see the same people running the events and doing little to bring new faces and new ideas not just to mind to but to fruition.

The problem that has plagued the YP efforts is the failure to define their goals. Is this about improving the community, or is about developing business, or is about personal career advancement? The last option is far too often the case. I for one don't like to mix up goals. Choose one: the community, a business, or yourself.

This is a choice that I think people going to Bold Fusion 2010 need to make. They don't have to just pick one and only do that, they just have to be honest and when they agree to take part in an organization that has picked one of first two options (community or business) that any personal gain is at best a side product, not the goal itself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cincinnati Has a Film Festival

For those local film fans who've been long waiting for a film festival to take place in Cincinnati can look forward to October 8th through the 16th when the Cincinnati Film Festival is scheduled to take place.

The festival is actually not a new one, just the transformation of the Oxford International Film Festival, which has changed its name and its location to be 100% in Cincinnati. This changed started last year when the festival was centered at the Esquire and will continue to be based there this year.

Details on submissions can be found at

Comments are being sought
from organizers via their Facebook page on what ideas festival goers would like to see be part of the event.

Communities Can Protest, But Kroger Will Win

I think I understand why multiple community groups are protesting the Roselawn Kroger closing, but other than guilt and creation of bad public relations, there is nothing to be done by government to stop it. Sure, citizens or even the City could try and delay it with pointless lawsuits, but in the end, businesses are not required to lose money. They are not even required to make money. We live in a capitalistic society were private business can operate as they please, as long as it is within the law.  There is no law against closing a businesses, so far as I've heard about.  Therefore the fight now should be on educating people about other places to shop.

It would be ideal that all businesses would try and serve the greater good of the community. If that were true we wouldn't need protection from large corporations.

This action by Kroger is another reason to support local businesses. Shop in places like Findlay Market or head to the Gateway Quarter as much as possible. You can't get everything, but the more you spend your money with more in mind than just price, the more you will save in the long run. Save jobs and makes jobs: Shop Local!

UPDATE: Yesterday's All Things Considered had a very interesting and timely report about a program in Baltimore where low income residents in neighborhoods under-served by grocery stores can go to public libraries and by groceries on-line and have them delivered the next day to the library. This is a small program, funded by a grant, but it is an interesting idea. I don't know if could work here, but it is another possible option.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sean Parker Appointed to CPS Board

From Ben Fischer of the Enquirer via Twitter: It's official, Sean Parker was just appointed to the Cincinanti school board.

A "Wow" Moment for Cecil Thomas

I only wish I'd seen this before I wrote my April Fool's Day post.

Thomas's view on abortion is nothing new. When he completed his 2009 Council questionnaire, he cited the Bible as support for his anti-abortion stance. While his responses are no longer available online, he had written something like "The Bible is good enough for me."

But in the current questionnaire, his response regarding stem cell research (quoting a Bible verse that doesn't seem to have anything to do with embryos or science) seems particularly over the top.

This may be yet another example of Thomas's lack of familiarity with primary contests. He's unlikely to pick up many Democratic voters with his answers.

Clark Montessori A Finalist in Commencement Challenge

I find it hard to believe that there's anyone who hasn't already heard this, but my email and FB have been filled with entreaties to go to the White House's Commencement Challenge and give Clark Montessori a high rating, so the school will make the next cut in its effort to have President Obama deliver the school's commencement address.

Regardless of your political views, you've got to admit it'd be pretty cool if the President gave the address at your high school graduation.

That said, I'm not sure that I approve of POTUS presiding over an American Idol-style competition to determine which high school he will visit.....

Interesting Decisions in Upcoming Trespassing Trial

As you know, last month Chris Smitherman (the president of the Cincinnati branch of the NAACP) and Rev. Dock Foster were arrested for trespassing during a protest outside of a Cincinnati public school construction site. The two--with others--were protesting CPS's under-inclusion of minority contractors in construction bids. At the time, I remarked that Smitherman and Rev. Foster had acted "in the best tradition of the civil rights movement." Griff, as the blog's resident law-and-order conservative, was less enthusiastic.

I had assumed that the arrest was just part one of the pair's protest. I anticipated that the two would ask a jury to find that their actions were justified, much the same way the "Flannery Five" did after being arrested for trespassing at Steve Chabot's office a few years ago.

It looks like I was wrong.

Trials for the two men are now scheduled. Rev. Foster's case has been assigned to Judge Rucker, and is set for May 26. Smitherman's case, assigned to Judge Powers, is set for May 6. Both cases are set for bench trial--that is, trial to the judge. Neither man has filed a jury demand. (In Ohio, one waives the right to a jury trial in a misdemeanor case unless a jury demand is filed at least 10 days prior to trial.)

There's obviously a lot we don't know. Perhaps both have decided to enter a guilty or no-contest plea. Perhaps both have reached plea agreements with the City. Or perhaps both intend to seek a continuance on the trial date. But I'm surprised that neither has (thus far) signaled a desire to air their cause before a jury of their peers.

Second Sunday in OTR

A new year brings a smart change to SSOM. The monthly event showcasing the growing neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine has changed its name from Second Sunday on Main, to Second Sunday in OTR.

The event, now in its sixth year, started as a fair focusing on the Main Street area. Reflecting on the growth on Vine and 12th Streets, organizers have changed the name and formally incorporated all of OTR into the event.

Here's the detail from last week's press release:
Second Sunday on Main will expand and change its name to Second Sunday in OTR (Over-the-Rhine), and will include Main, Vine and other surrounding streets between 12th and 14th streets. SSOTR will continue to be a hip, eclectic neighborhood event, but in its 6th season will embrace the vibrant neighborhood and expand beyond Main Street.

The season begins May 9 and continues through September 12 on the second Sunday of every month from 12 – 5 p.m. in historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The event is free and open to the public.

“The focus is going to change to be about the shops, restaurants and residents that are responsible for the rebirth of OTR,” said Barbara Hauser, chair of Second Sunday. “The energy and commitment to this neighborhood is endless and our hope is we can take this event to the next level and truly celebrate all of OTR.”

Several changes will occur including the Beer Garden and live music will move to the newly opened Neon’s Unplugged in their 4,000 square foot patio with a bocce ball court. “We are excited to be a part of Second Sunday and the expansion,” said Dan MacDonald, co-owner of Neon’s. “We want Neon’s to be a part of the fabric of the community, a place for folks to gather, hang out and make connections.”
This is really great news for the event. The addition of Neon's brings a local that will really grow from the exposure. Part of Neon's concept was to be a community and neighborhood place for people to share an afternoon or an evening. This cooperation will really give the event a chance to grow.

The schedule for the summer is as follows:
• Sunday, May 9 Take Mom to OTR
• Sunday, June 13 Dog Days
• Sunday, July 11 Global Groove
• Sunday, August 8 Neighbor Block Party
• Sunday, September 12 Eco-OTR-ia

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Is "First in Print" Working?

Last month, I mocked Enquirer Editor Tom Callinan's "First in Print" strategy. (Well, it wasn't so much the strategy I had troubles with, but Callinan's suggestion that bloggers are just vultures preying on the corpse of the traditional media.)

If I'm any bellweather, though, "First in Print" may be working. For the last several weeks, I've been buying a Sunday paper. At first, it was because there were one or two interesting-looking articles that I didn't want to wait to read until the next day. Lately, though, I do it because I've rediscovered the joy of reading the Sunday paper--that luxurious feeling of spreading out with the paper, going through the various sections, finding hidden gems towards the back of a section you might not have found if you hadn't followed a front-page story to its end, and (yes, I'll admit it!) reading the color comic strips.

So...has anyone else started reading the print edition of the Sunday paper again? Or am I (as usual) alone?

Who Wants to Buy the Soon to Be Old SCPA?

I myself don't have any spare change lying around my condo, but if you do and you would like to invest in a little fixer-upper, something will be on the market come June.

I don't know where it will be listed, but I'm sure you could appear at a CPS school board meeting and just make an offer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Social Media Gone Awry

Social media is the new black, right? It's perfect for every occasion. Kid graduating from college? Facebook it. See something amusing on the street? Twitter it. Going out to dinner? Use FourSquare to post your location to Facebook and Twitter at the same time.

But we've all seen examples of too much social media. Sometimes, it's just that a "friend" puts more on Facebook than you want to know. Other times, social media is used to spread news that probably should be relegated to more traditional fora. (For instance, I recently learned of a law school classmate's unexpected death via Facebook.)

Now comes word that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections is considering tweeting the completion of executions. That strikes me as being in remarkably bad taste. But perhaps I'm just old-fashioned. What do you think?

(Hat-tip: SL&P Blog)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reminder: Tweetup for Tarbell Tonight at Neon's!

Just a reminder to everyone that the Tweetup for Tarbell takes place tonight at Neon's Unplugged (208 E. 12th Street) from 5:30PM to 9:00PM.

Come out and support Jim Tarbell's campaign. This isn't a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to meet Jim and learn about his effort to become the next Hamilton County Commissioner.

If you are lucking you might get to wear his top hat too.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Someone Get Chris Monzel a Map

Geography must not be a requirement for Hamilton County Commission, but it should be. Chris, the City does not extended into Kentucky, so efforts to prop up the Airport there are limited at best. Also, the City does not extend over all of the county, therefore you should be addressing your comments to us, not your prospective primary voters out in Blue Ash. Most importantly, during his ranting speech at Monday's Finance Committee Meeting, Council Member Chris Monzel referenced West Chester and Mason in his attack on Streetcars.

Yes, Chris tried to use these Exurban communities to make a point about Cincinnati in regards to why he's against the Streetcar plan.

The "Son of the Suburbs" should just start packing and move to West Chester or Mason if he loves those types of communities.

Before he packs up the U-Haul, someone needs to get Chris a map. Better yet, let's just put out a call. Would everyone in West Chester and Mason, please be sure to vote for Chris on May 4th! We need a voting scandal! Just to make sure. Just so Chris knows and to help keep him from personally driving up the cost of gas. Chris, West Chester and Mason aren't in Hamilton County. The Republicans there can't vote for you. Sure you can get their money, and don't worry, people will be checking to see how much out of City and County money you got for your campaign.

Seriously, Monzel's rant for right-wing votes during Monday's meeting was laughable. He shows all he cares about is getting the short term votes of people who are against the development in and often against the existence of the City. He is not helping lead the city, he is standing in its way.

Chris Monzel needs to move out of the way. He needs to move away from the City he cares nothing about. He has never come up with an significant plan, proposal, or idea that would improve the lives of people of this City. His current crusade to get elected to a higher office is more than prima facie evidence that he is actively working to impede development of the City. He would rather sink money into projects outside the City and outside the State of Ohio. We don't need a guy on County Commission and certainly not Council who is not working for the best interests of its citizens. He's working for the interests of his donors and the special interest extremists supporting his crusade to kill the City.

The good news is that six members of the Finance Committee disagreed with Monzel, and his sidekick Leslie Ghiz, who shared his vote, but lucky for her, didn't rant on about the suburbs. I guess she's not moving out of town, yet.

For more of the good news on Council's action check out: UrbanCincy, CityBeat, and the Enquirer.