Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leslie Ghiz Refuses to Govern. That's Her Job!

Cincinnati council member Leslie Ghiz is abdicating her responsibilities to govern the city. From the article:
"It is the manager's job to figure out how to close the budget," Ghiz said, adding that the manager, mayor and council all are involved in the budget process. "It is not our job to figure out how to close that gap."
For at least the last two years the City Manager has provided multiple options for a balanced budget.  Leslie Ghiz, and the Republicans on Council, have opposed those options. If you oppose what the manager is doing, you have to give your own plan to balance the budget.  You don't give clues.  You don't dance around and say what you will not accept.  You instead DO YOUR JOB: GOVERN THE CITY.  Put out a plan that adds up.

If that means you get out the budget, a pencil, a legal pad of paper, and start doing the math to make it something you will vote for, then you DO IT. Why do you do it?  You do it because as a city council member it is your job to represent the people and provide a balance budget, what ever it takes. No political excuses.  No grandstanding.  Just get the job done.  If that means pissing off a group you are counting on for political support, tough!

If Leslie Ghiz refuses to do her job, why is she staying on council? Why is she bothering to run for office again?More importantly, why would any citizen vote for someone who is abdicating their responsibility?

Ohio Rep. Robert Mecklenborg Charged With OVI

Green Township Republican State Representative Robert Mecklenborg was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated back in April in Indiana.

Here are the problems with this situation:

  1. This happened two months ago and we are just learning it now.
  2. Mecklenbor "allegedly" refused a Breathalyzer test.
  3. Mecklenborg stated he has "every presumption of innocence at this time."
If this guy was a Democratic elected official the police would have leaked the arrest and the Republicans would be calling for him to resign.  At this point, the GOP have been silent as far I can tell and the Indiana Police appeared to keep silent for nearly two months.

As a reminder, a U.S. Congressman was recently forced to resign for basically being a bad husband and a creep, but wasn't charged with a crime.  This guy is charged with a crime, but we have no wind storm of calls for him to resign for "allegedly" doing something, driving drunk, that could have killed someone.  I'll hope we hear from some GOP officials soon.

But..There could be more to this story.  I'm not going there, yet.

Republicans' One Cut Fits All Attitude Will Ruin America

Republicans at all levels, Federal, State, and local have adopted a political strategy to deal with our economic crisis.  Yes, they have adopted a political strategy to deal with the economic crisis, not an economic strategy.  We are in trouble and they are taking the opportunity to mindlessly cut government. They are not thinking about what they are cutting, they are just bent on cutting. They think this will win them elections and get them donations from rich donors. They have no clue what will happen when this cuts are implemented and are giving no thought to the impact on society by massive reduction of services. The goal of Monzel and Hartman is to just cut everything. They are not thinking about the impact, they just want to cut, because if they try to do the right thing, the Tea Party will crush them. How can anyone function with that type of irrational thug based political paradigm? Seriously, Hartman isn't a stupid or insane man, but is acting like he has a gun to his head.  Monzel, well, he seems to like it.  He has a politically masochistic bent to him that puts that twinkle in his tone when he pushes his right wing agenda.

This is happening on all levels of government and the Hamilton County Commission is just the latest. There is no rationale provided, just a mantra: no tax increases. It is like they are robots, programmed to DESTROY ALL HUMANS, because they don't seem to have any forethought on what their draconian cuts will do. Mostly, and deep down, I don't think most Republicans care. Somehow a 19th Century economic mindset has become the core of elected and those trying to be elected Republicans.  That's the mindset that creates sweatshops and employees Pinkerton thugs to enforce their will.  Where did the sanity go?

We can't gut the government and have a viable society. The myopic stance Republicans take because they think they think they personally don't need government is going to screw them when they don't have roads or jails or courts functioning to provide the orderly society needed. Building a walled castle in the suburbs isn't going to keep out the problems facing the rest of us. We actually need a government to keep the chaos at bay. We have too many Republicans today who are ready to jump into the chaos. Where did this delusional mindset come from?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vote for OTR! Today!!!

OTR needs your help to win $25,000 for preservation of the neighborhood. Please vote in this survey for each email address you have. The deadline to vote is June 30th (Tomorrow) at 4:59 PM. OTR is barely in 1st Place, but needs your help to stay there. Spread the word and get people to vote today!

Barry Hortsman Has Been Reassigned Off the Streetcar, Mostly

Sources indicate that starting this week, Enquirer reporter Barry Hortsman takes on the role of general investigative reporter in a new investigative/data unit at the Enquirer. He will be off the transportation beat, which as reported here before is going to Amanda Van Benschoten. The best news is that he will be handing off the Streetcar issue, mostly, to Van Benschoten. It appears he may remain involved on some stories or issues involving the Streetcar, but it will not be his beat.  What we can now do is pay close attention to the bylines and credits on stories involving the Streetcar, seeing how the tone/facts sway.  If we get story after story involving COAST or Chris Smitherman press releases,  we can see if Hortsman's name is there.  If not, then I think the bias against the Streetcar will point right to the editors.  If we don't get Streetcar stories that go to COAST or Smitherman or Tom Luken for the anti-streetcar bias, then I will jump for joy.  There are plenty of sane anti-streetcar people out there.  They are far to often ignorant, but they are respectable.  I'd suggest Amanda stick to City Council Republicans.  They are against it and they should be happy to make the City know they are against it.

Elissa Yancey is the New Managing Editor at Soapbox

Elissa Yancey takes over the lead role of Soapbox from Sean Rhiney, who is stepping down from the role after about two years. Matt Cunningham is being promoted to Associate Editor and will be responsible for the Development and Innovation & Job News sections of the website.

A big thanks to Sean for his fine work and congratulations to Elissa and Matt.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seelbach Heading to White House Reception

Cincinnati City Council candidate Chris Seelbach is heading to Washington, D.C. tomorrow for a private reception with President Obama and the First Lady. Seelbach was selected to attend the President's celebration of LGBT Pride Month for his efforts in working for the civil rights of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders. Seelbach was part of the leadership team that successfully repealed the anti-gay Article XII amendment to the City Charter, which allowed discrimination based on sexual orientation.

More from the Enquirer.

The AP Likes Shit Stories

I don't know what it is about pooping and shit, but the Associated Press likes it and picked up this Enquirer story.

The AP Story doesn't get into the hypocrisy of the situation, like what did the homeless did before during the winter when the Washington Park toilets were closed? Also, why doesn't the Drop Inn Center provide public toilets? If they have a reason NOT to provide one, why would anyone else provide them?

It is pathetic that the media only responds to a story when it includes a circus and then get distracted by clowns and poop.

Why does the media treat 'homeless activists' any differently then they would treat a Press Release promoting the appearance by a fitness team showing the benefits of a new health drink that will keep you regular? Both are PR people, both are biased towards their product, and both are just as credible. Yet, one gets respected and the other dismissed. One spins the truth for profit, the other pretends it's altruistic. I'd love for both to be given the same treatment, but it appears that some people's shit doesn't smell.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Van Benschoten Taking on Transportation at Enquirer

Amanda Van Benschoten, NKY political reporter at the Enquirer, is moving her beat to the Cincinnati side of the river:
Beginning Monday, I move on to a new assignment at the newspaper: covering regional economic development and transportation.

I'll be covering the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, the Brent Spence Bridge, and Cincinnati's Port Authority, among other things. It's a beat chock full of political intrigue, and I look forward to it.

The big question: Will her Transportation coverage include the Streetcar? Has Barry Hortsman been reassigned or will she cover most Transportation modes, except for all rail Transportation that the Enquirer wants to use to create controversy?

Will MetroMix Last in Print Much Longer?

CityBeat News Editor Kevin Osborne ponders the future of Metromix. His analysis makes sense. The print edition would appear to be on its last legs. I'm not actually sure why the Enquirer didn't use the turmoil created with the latest round of layoffs to end the print edition, but I can't understand how they could gut the newsroom the way they did and still put out a daily print edition that is worth reading.

The assumption I would make, however, is that the online Metromix will go forward. I'm wondering what is taking so long for an iPad app for both the Enquirer and Metromix. Both the Dayton Daily News and the Columbus Dispatch have iPad apps. I really hope one was in the works prior to the layoffs. I don't see Gannett pushing one forward, even though they have the technology at USA-Today and it works pretty damn well. It would be nice if they capitalized on the investment there and rolled it out to the Enquirer.

Welcome LULAC!

I wish to welcome LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens) to Cincinnati this week for their annual convention.

Check out the Convention website and be sure to thank all of the volunteers helping with this event. It is great for Cincinnati to have a group like LULAC hold their national convention here and bring their message to this part of the country. The civil rights for Latinos is a cause that needs much attention in today's America and I am proud of the work they do. I'm also proud to be part Latino, even if I'm only 1/8th.

Former County Commissioner Files For Personal Bankruptcy

The Cincinnati Business Courier is reporting that Tom Neyer Jr., former Hamilton County Commissioner has filed for personal bankruptcy. The former Republican Commissioner is the owner of Neyer Holdings Corp. a real estate development company. According to the article, Neyer Holdings was involved in the very troubled Kenwood Town Place development that has been sitting half finished for around two years.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wilkinson to Write a Weekly Politics Column in the Sunday Enquirer

Long time political reporter Howard Wilkinson is again writing a political column for the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Today's column on Brad Wenstrup's challenge to Jean Schmidt is the first of what will be a regular Sunday column. Wilkinson is the only local political reporter/columnist who has been around long enough to have contacts that reach beyond the surface of campaign staffers. That also means he can tend to be the center of conventional wisdom.  Many of the older political players, who would logically be amongst his many sources, far too often think of the politics of the past as if Cincinnati is still what is was in 1970 or even 1985. Times have changed in City, County, and even the congressional political landscape.

I hope all his future columns are like today's, where it is more political analysis, than political opinion. Fact based analysis trumps trite dogma every time.  I also hope he stays out of national politics.  I don't want to hear his take on the 2012 presidential race, unless it is about the Ohio Primary, if it by chance will be meaningful for the GOP nomination.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is Barry Horstman An Olympic Athlete Or A Liar?

Jake Mecklenborg at the Cincinnati Monocle gives the information you need to answer the question the title of this blog poses: Is Barry Horstman an Olympic Athlete or a liar? Jake references the article Enquirer reporter Barry Hortsman wrote about the time it would take to "walk" the Streetcar route. Hortsman claimed the streetcar route could be walked in 34 minutes, a "very brisk walk" to be specific. That would be 3.15 miles in 34 minutes. When I do the the math I get a walking speed of 5.56 mph.

5.56 mph is jogging. So I guess the is a fantasy land where a "very brisk walk" equates to jogging. That land is a ways from OZ, but right next door to the spacecamp that COASTers call "reality."

So, that basically makes the entire point of the article wrong and horrible journalism.  Why do it?  Do I need to ask this question or is there more than just an anti-streetcar/pro-conflict bias at work here?

For the curious, Wikipedia indicates the average walking speed for people to be 3.1 mph, while running 3.15 miles would be somewhere between 6.6 and 6.8 mph for men and 5.8 and 6.1 for women.

Friday, June 24, 2011

'Zombies Ahead' Makes NPR

You know you made it when something, Interstate 71/75 sign warns of zombies, is reported on NPR. Just now, at the 5:30 AM news intro, the 'Zombies Ahead' sign was mentioned. Have no fear, it wasn't a big story and was  only part of their humorous intro to the hard news. Have a little pride that the country is noticing what we do here, no matter how bizarre or strange or in this case cleverly delinquent.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Council Conservatives Need to Learn Math

Jane Prendergast of the Enquirer reports about the rhetoric on the budget coming from the 5 conservatives on Cincinnati City Council and they just don't understand math or logic, but logic and math don't get you votes.

None of them have put forth a way to cut the $33 million deficit for 2012. None of those on council last year in this group put forth a way to actually balance the budget.  They have ideas, but they can't seem to bother naming the cuts needed to reach the required $33 million.

Instead, as Jane lists out, each of the 'fiscal five' have pet projects each wants to cut or have hollow ideas that have finite dollar values to be considered serious..  None of this ideas add up to anything close to balancing the budget because none do anything to cut the Police Department.

This is where the math comes in. The same 5 refuse to have property owners pay 10 dollars per 100,000 more to take the $33 Million down to $29 Million. So, they cut revenues, again, for the property owners who want the police coverage, which the 5 won't cut along with the revenue cuts. If you subtract from revenues you need to subtract from expenses.  Subtracting from revenues doesn't increase revenues.  That's magical math normally reserved for princes and frogs, but I guess for conservatives, property owners are like neo-feudal lords that actually believe in magic that can turn tax cuts into instant money to pay for more cops than we actually need.  Luther would be proud, I suppose.

Of the pet projects, they one with elements on the table that could put a dent in the deficit would be Chris Bortz's thoughts, but his ideas rely on an unproven assumptions: that outsourcing will save money. He also wants to cut programs that don't cost much, but many would find go along way to help the police govern more effectively in the long run, like the Citizen's Compliant Authority.

The rest of the council members either have hot button issues that add up to service cuts that don't come anywhere near $33 million or they rely on the pie in the sky word "merger", which does nothing now. Mergers are ideas to dangle in front of the ignorant voter, but the semi-smart voter knows none of the merger ideas can be worked out in time before council is required by the Charter to pass a 2012 budget. City/County merger ideas are actually good thoughts, but they are long term issues that need much thought and discussion, something that takes time and focus, which isn't being started in an election year, just talking about. Mergers are not something you can use to plug short term budget deficits. That requires actual numbers.

So, I put forth the challenge to all 5 conservatives on council. If they are serious about governing, they do have the majority after all, then they need to create a budget cutting plan that adds up to $33 million in savings. This would be a real budget, not a pretend one. Pretending includes using "mergers" ideas or ticket amnesty. Anyone who does not have a concrete set of numbers that add up to $33 million is lying when they say they have a budget plan.

The only thing all 5 seem to be willing to do is what ever the FOP wants. None of them will say a word about cutting a dime from anything the FOP says it needs, but will cut they rest of the city's budget (CFD not included). Ghiz is the worst and she knows her hypocrisy and doesn't care. Her quote from the article is priceless:
"I don't care about fair," Councilwoman Leslie Ghiz said.
Supporting the FOP gets her votes. Governing the city and making cuts that are best for all workers and citizens doesn't get her votes. It is crass politics, but it is what she does.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6% Less News At the Enquirer

According to the information I was able to analyse the latest round of layoffs at the Enquirer yesterday totaled 10 people from the news team. I count that as over 6% of the team charged with gathering, editing and putting out the newspaper and its websites. This doesn't include the outside bloggers affiliates 'working' for the paper. This also doesn't count the reportedly 8-9 other non-news people laid off from the paper.

So we get less news, Gannett big-wigs get bonuses and pay raises, and shareholders get a small short bump in share price.  A deal worthy of Wall Street.

People have been saying for many years now that newspapers are dead. I thought that was bullshit. I knew they were shells of what they used to be, but they would stick around, maybe online only. Maybe they would start using a pay wall. I just didn't think they could cut more reporters. This layoff actually cut news gathering by 4 people. There are now 4 fewer people at the paper who had the job of gathering news and writing about it. I don't know how they will be replaced. Either using more freelancers or just cover the same limited coverage with fewer people and wind up with that 6% less news.

We the people of Cincinnati need to actually start thinking about what we will do when the Enquirer goes away. I understand that most conservatives will point to the free market, but Democracy does not exist without a free press, even a flawed newspaper like the Enquirer. No other outlet does what it does. It serves as the source of most of the news that is reported in Cincinnati. This news gathering is a service that must continue. I don't know how, but we need it, so we better start planning how to live in a post newspaper world. If we don't, the mindless drones who don't bother paying attention or just listen to the propaganda outlets will be the majority, if they aren't already. That's how fascism literally starts, not the rhetorical kind people like to claim exists now.  Start thinking now and get your face out of the reality TV shows for a few minutes, OK?

Covedale Isn't a Seperate Neighborhood

I don't know what is wrong with being part of West Price Hill, but some residents wish to be recognised as a separate neighborhood called Covedale.  They've been denied that recognition by the City Manager.  Except for the ever variable property value game, I don't see any value in the distinction between West Price Hill and Covedale.  I don't know where the Covedale name stems from, but adding it for cosmetic reasons isn't worth the expense to the city.  Furthermore, the implications from a Community Council perspective is more troubling.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where Does P. G. Sittenfeld Stand on the Streetcar?

A hole is starting to grow and if that hole gets to big, a candidate for City Council may not be able to get out. The discussions are going around the social media and commenting circles in Cincinnati about where PG Sittenfeld, Democratic candidate for Cincinnati Council, stands on the Streetcar. Social media posts claim he is against it, one based on a conversation the poster allegedly had with the candidate. His website is silent on the issue. It is silent on Transportation in general. This is a big issue in the city. It may not be an issue some candidates want to get in the middle of, but they must take a clear position on it.

I don't like commenting on rumor, but this is a hopping one. It is a rather easy one to quell. A Twitter post will do just fine. I'd like to hear his views on the topic and unless he wants to become victim to the rumor mill's albatross line of accessories, he should speak up. He's not going to gain long term support by appeasing to opposing groups' views.

More Praise For Cincinnati Public Schools

Joe Nathan of the offers up a summary on how Cincinnati Public Schools increased their graduation rates by more than 25%. The article is full of praise for what Cincinnati Schools, particularly Taft High School and it's principal Anthony Smith, accomplished.