Sunday, February 10, 2019

On Playing Political Football In Cincinnati

If you ever wanted a lesson on the ills and faults of political and social discourse, expression, and action in America, then look no further than the latest episode surrounding building a Soccer Specific Stadium here in Cincinnati.

The details of the latest confrontation to fire up the local media, social media, and varied activists & advocates are immaterial.  Yep, you read that correctly, I am saying the details don't matter. I am sure you are shocked, but what matters is just a simple fact: in 2021 FC Cincinnati is going to begin play in a new stadium in the West End.

What is happening now with the latest episode is just noise for most of us.  Yes, if you want to know about the details of how things will happen, that is certainly understandable.  It is also understandable for people to want to influence the details of how the stadium will be built.  What is not reasonable is for people trying to change the one basic fact, the Stadium will be built.

What is ironic is that the sides to this issue have reversed from another contentious project, the Streetcar.  When that was built and continuing right up to today, its opponents, including the Mayor and his cabal, are taking actions (often through inaction) to hinder or hurt the project.  Based on my observations, many (not all) of those who support the Streetcar were opposed to building the Stadium in the West End or even at all.  So, what should be happening is that both sides should be examining how the other side's shoes feel.

We didn't get much of that this week.  We instead got knee jerk reactions online and in real life.  Local media capitalized on the controversy, but they were mostly reacting to the actions of local politicians, local arts organizations, and FC Cincinnati leaders.

My interactions saw multiple attitudes that made little sense to me.  Some local politicos (office holders and activists) sought to either wage a last ditch Quixotic effort to derail the project or at least try to damage it and the Soccer Club.  Another different, but allied, segment were some of the arts supporters, who let loose on social media with virulent viewpoints that varied from being anti-sports to anti-conservative, which sports far too often is attached (unfairly). This was just unproductive on so many levels.  For the politicos, it is just wasting powder on future struggles they could wage effectively to hold the team and the Mayor accountable to deliver on their promises.  For the arts supporters it is shooting themselves in the foot.  Alienating potential arts goers is just foolish.  Even if they think that sports fans are not arts fans (which is also foolish,) you have to want any exposure to the neighborhood that you can get.  A few thousand people hanging out in Washington Park are a marketer's ideal group to be exposed to a pre-match concert or event.

The Cincinnati Ballet gets its own separate call out.  They are in direct conflict with FC Cincinnati and are using this as a ploy to pressure the club, with their latest press release to delay a zoning vote.  The problem is that they are hurting themselves.  Along with the CAA releasing the sound report without listing the possible solutions to whatever sound issue exists at Music Hall, this attitude is not going to win over any NEW patrons and may hurt some of their existing patrons.  Sure, it appeals to their base, but unlike politics, the arts really do need a wide group of people to support them.  This makes them look elitist and to be very frank, like prima donnas.  I respect the musicianship that goes into every performance at Music Hall and this may have a noticeable effect on some performances and rehearsals, but to the average person it is not going to make sense.  The average person likely wasn't the intended audience, the donors and city officials were, but doing it such a public way doesn't help in the end.

The other side of the coin were conservative FCC supporters unleashing simplistic and divisive attacks on the arts organizations themselves and local politicians.  I say conservative FCC supporters not because they are all conservative, I am a four year season ticket holder myself, but because there is what I see as a divide amongst the political stance of the supporters. It is my observation that those who hit hardest on this were suburban and critical of city government.  That logically stems from conservative viewpoints.  This must stop. Mixing politics with anything makes it suck, and sports, especially soccer (football) are greatly damaged when politics is layered on. A noticeable section of sports fans in general act like pricks. Soccer has them, but for the first three years of the club’s existence that mentality has not dominated the discourse, like it has surrounded other big sports like baseball, basketball, and American football. I hope it remains a small group and they learn to scream at the TV and radio and not spout crap online. I won’t be holding my breath.

What I believe needs to happen now is for all city leaders (Mayor and Council) to make thoughtful decisions and then either support the project or get out of the way, like the Mayor SHOULD have done for the Streetcar. The arts supporters should focus on finding solutions, not making enemies. FCC fans should be more understanding of the effects the stadium will have on the surrounding neighborhoods, not act like entitled jerks.

I don’t expect this to happen and that really disappoints me. If people continue to take the same aggressive attitudes they invoke on national issues and apply it locally,  they are going to regret the repercussions. We need to live together and make things work. Part of that is accepting when you lose. The Mayor failed at that, opponents of the stadium are failing at that now. We need the Mayor to stop blocking the traffic study and give the Streetcar better signal flow and enforcement of blocking the tracks. The arts supporters should work on solutions to issues that might arise, like scheduling.  FCC Fans should be open minded and respectful of the people who will be living, working, and playing near the stadium. Let’s be neighbors and not enemies, at least more often than we are.

What is most awkward is that FC Cincinnati is holding an event on Monday at Music Hall. I hope everyone is on their best behavior.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

CovCath H.S. in Northern Kentucky Linked to Incident at DC Anti-Abortion Rally

Multiple news outlets are reporting (here, here, and here) evidence and accounts that a group of local students from Covington Catholic High School were involved in an incident Friday  January 18th at the March 4 Life event, an anti-abortion event in Washington, D.C.

Video exists that shows students taunting a Native American Elder who was attending an Indigenous Peoples protest against Genocide, that also was taking place in Washington, D.C.  on Friday.

Saturday morning, multiple videos went viral on Social Media.

The simple truth of it, the kids doing the taunting, while some wore "MAGA" hats, were despicable.  There is not been a full confirmation that all of those involved were from CovCath, but in the videos multiple individuals are wearing Covington Catholic clothing.

Few are defending this group of kids at this point, but more will come once parents start trying to spin things.  This should be an incident that the parents use to teach their kids and hope they can learn from it.  I think some parents will do that.  Unfortunately, some will not, and will either condone or make excuses.

Learning from one's mistakes is how we grow as people.  Parents letting their shitty kids get away with this crap and face no consequences, that is the entitlement that drives people apart.  I fear that too many of these kids learned this type of behavior from their parents and those parents think it's appropriate to be horrid and mocking to people who look different.  I hope they can learn.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Worst in Cincinnati Journalism for 2018

In non-election years, local journalists don't always get the attention they desire.  In today's media atmosphere of gaining readers/viewers at any cost, the desire turns into a need and brings out the worst in journalists.  This year there have been many examples of bad journalism in the Cincinnati area.  Here's my list of the worst:

Jason Williams of the Enquirer - Many years ago CityBeat gave me a special mention in their annual "Best of" awards: The best Anti-Peter Bronson Blog.  I can state without question that Jason Williams is no Peter Bronson, no matter how hard Williams tries to be.  The reason why is that for all of his negative hits against his political foes, Peter Bronson remained a gentleman about it. Bronson didn't make it personal.  The Enquirer's Jason Williams makes it personal.  He takes pot shots at people and is a prick about it.  He indirectly singles people out and attacks them, not for their political stances, but for their personal ones.  Williams doesn't like OTR and the Streetcar.  I don't know if it is because he is against urbanism or can't take criticism from the people who don't agree with the lifestyle he lives.  He keeps that lifestyle mostly hidden.  He's a suburbanite, but tries to deflect what comes across as a dislike of cities.  He is most likely a moderate Republican of some stripe.  He viciously attacks progressives and has a disdain for their politics that usually only comes from the most vile far right wing conservatives.  He steers clear from criticising most Republicans and moderates like John Cranley.  He'll rip on the low hanging fruit, like Trump, when he's committing the worst sin of a columnist: attempting to appear balanced.  Williams opinions are not balanced and he will never be a good columnist until he admits that.  He won't be close to Peter Bronson, who never denied being a very conservative Republican.  A good columnist has to commit to something and Williams has only committed to being mean and embracing the anti-city characters lurking about.

"Self Proclaimed" - Many journalists were guilty of laziness or bias this year when they referred to five Cincinnati members of council as the "gang of five," but those who claimed the term was "self proclaimed" were inaccurate, and committed an act of bad journalism. While not the only journalist to do so, Jennifer Baker, of FOX19 and carried by the Enquirer, doubled down on the term even after it was pointed out to her, by me, that use of "self proclaimed" was not accurate. For those wondering how this is inaccurate, I ask where the public proclamation is of the five members making claim of this term.  A couple of joke texts is not the group proclaiming anything.  The term was adopted by Republican lawyer who filed a politically motivated lawsuit against the city and the five council members. Running with the Republican a taking point makes for bad journalism. Even the grossly biased, but within his lane as a columnist, Jason Williams used the term "gang of five" with the quotation marks included.

WLWT's Twitter Account - Local news has a simple goal: report LOCAL news.  WLWT's twitter account dumps in tons of crap that is not local.  Crime stories have been the most relevant examples that have been Tweeted by the station with no indication in the Tweet that the story's byline is no where near Cincinnati or even the wider region.  Stories that take place in any of the three states that make up the Tri-State area I think are semi-reasonable to report for a Cincinnati media outlet, but local crime in Florida or New York or Alabama are not local stories and have no place being reported WITHOUT reference in the headline of the location.  That's the problem.  The Tweets I am talking about are really just the headlines from online articles that hit the WLWT website and then are pushed to Twitter.  If the Local outlet wants to gain followers, find, but they have journalistic responsibility to accurately convey information.  Assuming people read the article is not being responsible, and creates misinformed readers.  Far too many people think crime is rampant when they see these types of stories on their local news social media pages.  Responsible journalists look to inform the public with fact, not to provide sensational stories that gain clicks, but misinform people on their communities.  WLWT is not alone in doing this, but I've seen far more from them than other outlets.

I don't expect any of those mentioned above to change in 2019, but I can hope others won't follow their example.  For all of terrible journalism we get exposed to, local journalism has the most responsibility to be accurate.  They touch stories of people and organizations and governments that we see and are affected by every time we walk out our front doors.  We are suffering through the creeping destruction of journalism at the hands of a combination of commercial and political interests.  Every step the consumer can take to push those interests back is the only remedy, so make sure others call out bad journalism when they see it.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

What Do You Make of the CincyTrollFarm? Porn, Soccer, and Politics, Oh My!

If you use Twitter and post something that criticizes Cincinnati City Council Member Chris Smitherman, a Republican, then a "pack" of Twitter accounts comes out from under their respective rocks and starts liking and retweeting Twitter posts from a small cabal of Smitherman supporter's Twitter accounts or other aligned Conservative Twitter accounts.  Some of this pack of accounts have profiles that appear to be some type of porn advertisement that also likes local soccer. 

It is disappointing that some FC Cincinnati fan is also a right wing conservative troll that has some type of online porn business. I know there are conservatives into Soccer, but here in the US the fandom is younger and has a much more progressive fanbase.  American based sports have fans that are traditionally more conservative on the whole, so having Soccer fans without the Bud Light walking commercials is refreshing. It is more disappointing that he/she either forgets what Twitter account they are on or they are knowingly mixing their politics, porn business, and soccer fandom.  An odd mix.

That being said, recent articles about the NYCFC "Proud Boy" fans makes me concerned that there are facist idiots hanging out in the Bailey.  I am NOT talking about Republicans or Conservatives, I am talking about Fascists and misogynistic White Nationalists.  They don't belong in any supporter group.  I know of one FC Cincinnati supporter group who has been the most confrontational and quite frankly acted like juvenile assholes on many occasions over the last three years.  I hope they DO NOT let fascists into their midst.  I hope the same for all other supporters groups, but this one group has the reputation for being the closest  on the spectrum of being like European hooligans.  Soccer hooligans in Europe have in many instances been affiliated with far right wing political groups that push fascist stances. So, with no evidence, I am looking with both eyes at the group who are most likely to hold those views.  Call it unfair or not, but those in the FCC fandom community know the group in question, who sit to the far front left side of the Bailey (when facing the pitch), and keeping watch on our fellow supporters groups is part of what must be done to make Soccer in Cincinnati grow and prosper.


Friday, November 09, 2018

Making the Correct Choice When Dealing With the Enquirer's Jason Williams

If you wonder how a politician should treat the Enquirer's conservative columnist Jason Williams, just refer to this sentence from his latest column:
Pureval declined Politics Extra's interview request on Thursday.
You are not going to get a fair shake with Williams unless he likes you or you fit his bias. He is biased against nearly every Democrat, namely John Cranley, so the best action is to refuse to be interviewed by him.

I would suggest coming up with colorful ways to say no.  Think of a greeting card type response, a "Sorry for you biased column" card or something similar.  Sending him a bouquet of straw might be applicable.  Avoid sending dead fish in newspaper.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Biased Journalism from FOX19's Jennifer Baker

While not the only member of the local media to create bias in referring to a group of Cincinnati Council members as the "Gang of Five", Jennifer Baker of FOX19 has gone multiple steps further. In an article today she refers to the group as a "Gang" directly:
In the meantime, however, the Gang and their lawyer can’t just ignore the judge’s order or try to seek exemption, Shrive wrote in court records earlier this week.
I added the bold section for emphasis. This is not a direct quote, as no quotation marks were used. At best she was trying to paraphrase. That's a failure. It is language a reporter would use when talking about a street gang. Something I think she and COAST and the Republicans know. It wasn't just one instance. She repeats it multiple times.
The Gang is “in contempt of this Court’s lawful order and should be required to show cause why they should not be held in contempt for their failure to comply with the Discovery Order," his motion reads.

On Wednesday, Shrive went to higher court and filed a motion to dismiss the Gang’s appeal.

The Gang, he wrote in court records, can’t use attorney-client privilege now on appeal to escape a judge’s order to release their secret text messages and emails.
What is just as bas is that she claims in the article the term "Gang of Five" is "self named" which is a lie. She's using a single text message that was never intended as anything more than a joke. The group didn't issue a statement declaring this reference. It was dug up by the Republicans and lawyers for them who are suing these council members as means hurt them.

To add insult to injury, she didn't even have a quote from anyone representing the members of council being sued.  She had all of one side's arguments and nothing else to refute it.

Baker's article extremely is biased. This is terrible journalism. She is using this to either push her political opinions or to manufacture catchy controversy to gain Conservative readers.

For Cincinnati Council The Terms They Are A Changin', Again

As cliche' as this post's headline is, it blends along an un-Dylanesque harmony with the Fourth Street backed Cincinnati Charter Amendment re-establishing two year terms for Cincinnati City Council. This ballot issue handily won Tuesday night. Due to a quirky 1930's established rule, since this amendment got more votes than a separate conflicting Charter Amendment issue proposing four year staggered terms, the two year term Amendment will be adopted. It will go in effect after the current four year terms end in 2021.

I am sure that everyone is certainly thinking about the impacts and future ramifications of this change compared with the current four year terms, so I'll reverently excite you with my list. It's based on a combination of my experience, logic, and a second cup of coffee:

Impacts and Ramifications of Change Back to Two Year Terms
  1. Not as much its supporters wanted you to believe.
  2. The current term limited council members will have half as long to wait to run again.
  3. Funding increases will be required s to run more frequent elections.
  4. Candidates have more flexibility in planning to run for office if they only have to wait two years.
  5. Elected candidates have to begin running for office immediately after taking office.
  6. There will be every other year election year antics, filled with grandstanding.
  7. Likely would decrease the advantage of incumbency for those up for re-election after their first term.  After the second term it would be close to the same level of advantage.
  8. The Mayoral office loses more relevance and would motivate the office holder to create conflict as a means of influence.
  9. Voters would have the opportunity to vote out members of council more frequently.
  10. It will impact the 2023 race more than the 2021 race.
What was missed on this entire process is that it was not discussed openly. For all of the talk about transparency by the local media and partisan Republicans looking to attack the city, no one cared to spend significant time to discuss who funded this process and why. Local professional media are just not doing a good job or are being prevented from doing it. Some are knowingly letting this issue go by because they just want the conflict to cover. Others are just ignorant. Some are siding with one group. Our local media collectively has taken a massive step back the last few years. Whether it is the negative influence of John Cranley and Republicans or is something else, I don't know, but it is happening.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Cranley and Smitherman Both Want a Blue Pony, with Jason Williams as Stable Boy

With the John Cranley's self made drama at City Hall this month, one might be fooled into thinking that the City Manager is a threat.  Harry Black is a not a threat, he is a roadblock.  He is blocking the lustfully power hungry Mayor and 'Vice-Mayor', John Cranley and Chris Smitherman respectively, from illegally seizing control of Cincinnati City government.  Other than the City Manager and City Council, the real hurdle getting in their way, and making their efforts illegal, is the the law, specifically the City Charter and how it defines the role and power of Mayor.

Both Cranley and Smitherman want power.  They want to be a strong mayor.  I really hope this isn't some type of fetish role-playing for either man, trying to be a modern day Boss Cox.  I get they might like gilded age costumes, but that's just taking it too far.  Steampunk Smitherman does sound like a good nickname, however.

The problem for them is that the Mayor has limited power.  The mayor is not the boss of the city.  The mayor has  some power, but not total control of all City employees.  Cranley wishes he had that, but knows unless he can somehow remove term limits (unlikely as the GOP likes them), he's only working for his legacy.  Cranley's legacy rests solely on Republican Chris Smitherman.  Yes, I called him a Republican.  I am probably going to be called a racist for daring to call a duck a duck, but Smitherman's Twitter StormTroopers can bloviate all they want.  I just hope they can figure out I am a real person.  They've claimed I'm an pen name for elected officials or maybe they think I'm a Russian Bot, but here's hoping the kids can study up.  Maybe even read the over 15 years worth of blog posts I've written, on my archive.  I may not be a good writer, but I sure as Hell have been doing this long enough to know who the players are in Cincinnati politics.  I've been around long enough to know that when you vote in the Republican primary, endorse Republican candidates, adopt Republican polices, campaign with Republicans, attack Republican enemies, and take Republican money, then I am going to call you a Republican.  If Smitherman thinks he can't get elected mayor as a Republican, he should understand that lying about you policies and allegiances isn't going to work either.  You can't compartmentalize like Yasir Arafat in Cincinnati.  Don't mix messages with different audiences.

The funny twist in recent Enquirer coverage of the Mayor's Chaos comes from the resident hack political columnist Jason Williams. He is almost criticizing John Cranley.  I say almost, as Williams still tried his best to blame Cranley's drama on what he's calling the 'urban progressives' and 'Progressive 5.'  Not sure what he means by urban, as this is a city, but we do have a suburban mayor, so I'll presume Williams isn't a fan of people who like cities. He's certainly championing those against the City of Cincinnati. That would include Republican member of council Chris Smitherman.  Williams, I guess, finally figured out he's not going to get a job in Cranley's administration, so now he's pushing the anti-city Manager form of government that Smitherman painfully desires.  His lust for power borders on the psychotic and makes Cranley's penchant for sticking it to his political foes look like pin pricks in comparison.  A character like Smitherman without a professional city manager to run the day operation would look like a small version of a Trump White House.  Same kind of ego, but with more outward signs of psychosis.

Strong mayors are not a good idea in Cincinnati and not with those wanting it now.  Former Ohio State Senator Eric Kearney stated well what I believe is the underlying problem with the position Cranley and Smitherman (with Williams) are putting forth:
The problem is with the way they are trying to govern.  They want the government and the populace to bend to their will.  That's not leadership, that is bullying.  Leaders don't create controversy as a means to push forward as a political pretext to change the form of government. If there is a problem with the form of government, make the claim as to why, present facts, and be honest.  If you just want to gain more power, then I say fuck off, we don't need mini-Trumps in Cincinnati.