Thursday, July 31, 2008
Whatever. I like watching him play, but it's not going to have an impact on my life. Or yours.
The bigger news of the day--the exciting news, the news that made me giggle with glee as soon as I read it--is about two of my favorite places: Fountain Square and Chipotle. And now they're going to be together. At last. I feel like the first person to taste peanut butter and chocolate together in the same bite. Can you imagine: sitting on the Square, eating a Chipotle burrito on a glorious spring day?
There are those who hate the encroachment by national chains into downtown. I wish I had comforting words of wisdom for them. I don't. I like Chipotle, and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm glad they're coming downtown. Now I can get a burrito, follow it up with a Graeter's ice cream cone, and wash it all down with a beer from Rock Bottom.
I might never leave downtown again . . .
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
For Obama: It's a little bit of a dark horse pick, but I really believe it's going to be Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas. That choice might be attractive to Obama for several reasons. First, her gender (female) may win over some of the PUMA's. Second, it puts someone on the ticket with executive experience who still doesn't overshadow Obama. Finally, her genealogical ties to Ohio (her father is fomer Governor John Gilligan) may win him some votes in the Buckeye State.
For McCain: I freely admit I haven't given much thought to this question. But as much as McCain likes to consider himself a maverick, I think he makes a traditional choice: a governor from a Southern state. My pick is Charlie Crist of Florida, with Bobby Jindal of Louisiana being a strong contender.
Oh, shoot, I forgot to use the one word that makes sure we gets lots of comments here. So let me rephrase the question: If you were able to get on a streetcar and meet the vice presidential picks of Obama and McCain, who do you think they'd be?
Both the groom-to-be (the GTB) and the bride-to-be (the BTB) are friends of mine. I'm leaving their names off the post, so they can tell their friends and colleagues who weren't lucky enough to be on the Square Saturday night in their own time and in their own way. I've known the BTB for several years. She's one of the nicest (yep, said it again!), most intelligent, hardest-working people I've ever known. I've not known the GTB for nearly as long. But along with the BTB's other friends, I was happy for her when she got involved with the GTB--finally, a man who is worthy of her.
About a week ago, the GTB sent out an email to the couple's friends, informing us of his intention to propose. He invited us to sneak into Rock Bottom Brewery ahead of time (with warnings to be on-time, lest his subterfuge be foiled). He put together a video montage of their life as a couple, which concluded with his proposal, that was played on the Jumbotron. The camera operator then, in real time ("live") , zoomed in on the couple, as their body language made clear that the BTB had happily accepted. (We had snuck out of Rock Bottom to the far eastern edge of the Square, where we were able to watch without the BTB seeing us.) Both the GTB's and the BTB's families were present, as well. Most of the women present teared up.
It was a really nice moment on Fountain Square, and hopefully was a little bit of fun even for those who were just enjoying their weekend and had no idea what was about to unfold. And the men in the gathering were nice enough not to beat the snot out of the GTB, who has now raised the bar way too high for the rest of us single guys. (How do you top that? Get a marching band to spell out a proposal at half-time of the OSU-Michigan game?)
This certainly can't be the first wedding proposal in the history of Fountain Square, but does anyone know: is this the first time the Jumbotron has been used for that purpose?
And it's another sign of how much a part of Cincinnati's life, culture, and community the "new" Fountain square has become.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
I look forward to a repeat event next year. I think it would be great next year to have more of a discussion or activity that might spawn more focused learning about the best practices for blogging or for discussion as where blogging is going.
I was happy to meet several bloggers I've not met before and it was great catching up with friends.
For those where were there, would you say there are any overall traits you could perceive about those in attendance? Is there something that makes people become bloggers?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
We have not heard much about the state of CPD community relations for a long time. I don't know if that means the police are making progress in relating to the public or if there are other reasons. I am sure the police still have detractors, but they are getting as much attention. Articles like this will not fuel confrontations.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
It is a nice article that gives a good base background on blogging in Cincinnati. It is, however, only one pass at the huge list of local bloggers. Many more blogs, most of which you can see on my blog roll to the left, speak to a great many ideas and topics. Are there other local blogs out there people have read and think should have been mentioned on Soapbox or be included on my blogroll?
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Which ice cream is better, Aglamesis or Graeter's, and why?
This is, of course, one of the most important and divisive questions facing the Queen City.
I'll post my own opinion in the comments.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
The national acts confirmed so far are:
Robert Pollard and the Boston Spaceships
Backyard Tire Fire
Oh My God
The showcase list is also here.
Some local bands not on the list that are surprising: Wussy, Lion's Rampant, White Girls, Eat Sugar, Pomegranates, Straw Boss, and the Star Devils - what gives? Are these bands opting out of MidPoint?
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Effective August 1, there will be less room in the Hamilton County jail, fewer deputies patrolling county communities and no one manning metal detectors at the courthouse or other county buildings.
Based on the comments linked to the article (I'm still not sure why it's a good idea for a newspaper--as opposed to a blog--to permit reader comments), a lot of people think Leis is whining, bluffing, or both.
I don't think he is.
We've already noticed one conspicuously absent guard in the Justice Center. For those of you who haven't been there, it's comprised of two buildings, connected to each other by a covered bridge at the second floor level. One of the buildings is connected to the courthouse by a covered bridge, as well. Typically, a deputy sits in a control room outside the secured areas of each of the buildings. Until this week. That's when Sheriff Leis eliminated the schedule for the deputy assigned to sit in the control room in the "South" building. So to visit inmates in the South building, attorneys (or probations officers, medical professionals, clergy, etc.) must now go to the North building, check in with the control room there, ride to the second floor, walk across the tunnel to the South building, and then take the South elevator to their final destination. This includes people trying to see inmates in the holding cells on the first floor of the South building, behind the courtrooms where defendants make their initial appearances.
I can't believe that Sheriff Leis is happy about this change. Visitors are all issued badges that show where they're headed. So if someone wanders away from the area to which their access is approved, it's always been easy for the corrections officers to tell at a glance. Now, though, the CO's will have to deal with people walking through the North building even though they have no business there--because it's the only way to get to the South building. The situation has to raise grave security concerns.
I've been interested by my own reaction to the announced elimination of metal detector coverage in the courthouse. I've always had a distaste for the increased security in government buildings over the past fifteen years, and have felt it unfair to have to subject one's self to a search as a condition of entry. But I'll admit: I'm unnerved by the thought of everyone entering the courthouse without passing through security. Lots of emotionally volatile things take place in our courtrooms every day. Once security is gone, lots of us will fear that an overwrought crime victim or family member will show up in a courtroom ready to exact his or her own form of justice.
The county is broke, folks. The question isn't whether it is, or whether to cut the budget. It's not even how we got here. (HamCo Republican Boss Triantafilou has decided to blame the Democrats. Apparently, he's forgotten that it's his Republican President's failed policies that have put our economy (and thus county revenues) into a death spiral, and Republican Bob Bedinghaus who was largely responsible for the terrible stadium deal.)
Now, we have to ask ourselves some real questions about revenue. How do we get more of it? How do we raise enough to provide at least a bare minimum of government services? I'm not sure anyone has the answer.
Does Westwood Concern (Mary Kuhl's micro-jingoistic organization bent on ridding Westwood of non-Aryans) oppose development everywhere, including in Westwood? Are jobs bad? Does opening a Bed & Breakfast attract the poor blacks too much for their taste?
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Apparently, Bronson spent a few hours following Lou Strigari, the Hamilton County Public Defender, while Mr. Strigari handled felony arraignments for his office's incarcerated clients. Bronson's conclusion? Take a look:
Contrary to what you hear from people who talk a lot about injustice, these guys belong behind bars and they know it.
Keep in mind that Bronson is writing here about pretrial detainees--that is, individuals whose guilt has not yet been established. Moreover, I'm not sure which inmates Bronson talked to, but certainly not any of my clients. I've yet to sit down in the Justice Center or Queensgate (or any other jail, for that matter) and have a client say to me, "Mr. Caster, thanks for coming, but you know what? I belong in here." Instead, my clients--even the ones who acknowledge their guilt--are worried about how to take of their families, about how to change their lives so they're not back in the justice system again after they finish paying for the mistake they've just made, or about that their future will look like if they have to serve time in prison.
What makes Bronson's judgment particularly reprehensible is that he was around inmates and corrections officers long enough to find out that some of the people he met need help. Again, from Bronson's own poison pen:
The jails would be nearly empty without mental illness and drugs. The guards agree that two-thirds of the prisoners have mental health issues, and 75 percent arrive under the influence of something.
(Emphasis mine.) I'm not sure if those numbers are really accurate (they're obviously anecdotal and rough estimates). But for Bronson to write that "these guys belong behind bars" while at the same time acknowledging that the majority of them suffer from mental health issues seems beyond comprehension. Is that what "compassionate conservativism" is about? Incarcerating people who need treatment? I don't understand how to reconcile those two excerpts from Bronson's piece.
This is a difficult week for attorneys who provide indigent defense in Hamilton County. Everyone involved knew that the system wasn't perfect. But reading the National Legal Aid & Defenders Association's hundred-plus page assessment of the provision of legal services here and how much it differs from a lot of places around the country makes me want to go back to bed, pull up the covers, and not come out until the system is fixed. (I certainly don't agree with each of NLADA's findings and recommendations, but overall, they get more right than they get wrong. And remember: the report isn't done by a bunch of nosy outsiders who should have minded their own business; the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners requested and paid for this assessment.) But as tough as it is to read the NLADA's report, it's even harder to read Bronson's hatred of all things--and people--that aren't suburban and just like him.
Griff: sorry about this. I know it's your job to beat on Bronson, but I couldn't hold back on this one.
For the thousands that were on Fountain Square to see Barak Obama speak to the NAACP Convention it was an electric event. I have never been on the square with a bigger crowd, so if you have pictures from above, please post them on line and share the links.
The most entertaining part of the event was hear the WLWT announcers astonishment at how big of a crowd was on Fountain Square for the speech. They thought maybe a few hundred would show up. Instead it was a few thousand.
John McCain speaks tomorrow and I will be surprised if he gets this type of crowd, especially since he is speaking in the morning vs. the evening.
I was greatly impressed with the speech. It wasn't full of a lot of details, which needs to change when he gets to the Democratic Convention. The way the crowd was really interested in what he said was refreshing. People far too often seem uninterested.
As I walked to the Square last night, I was confident that Obama would carry Hamilton County. Afterwards, I am certain Obama will carry Hamilton County.
Chime in if you were there.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
1. Kafka Comes To America: Fighting for Justice in the War On Terror. This book is written by Steven Wax, a Federal Public Defender charged with representing some of those who have been held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. He also represented Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon lawyer who was falsely accused of participating in the Madrid train bombings in 2004. It's a terrific insider's account of the process of defending accused terrorists. One of the details in the books that particularly surprised me: lawyers were permitted to bring food to their clients in Gitmo.
2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. This is the debut novel of David Wroblewski that has taken up residence on the bestsellers' list for the last several weeks. The bulk of reviews will tell you that the novel evokes Hamlet and White Fang. But I also sense (though I'm far from a literary critic) the influences of Catcher in the Rye and John Steinbeck. It's a terrific story, wonderfully told, that you won't be able to put down until you're through. The last week, I literally haven't been able to wait to finish up at the office to get back home to the book. It's a must-read for anyone who loves either dogs or good stories or both.
Full disclosure: I have not read the full report and cannot find it on the internet, so I take the Enquirer's summary as accurate. Further, a significant portion of my own law practice is devoted to indigent defense as an attorney contracted by the Public Defender to defend both felony and misdemeanor cases. So I operate in this area from a huge conflict of interest, which I both recognize and now disclose.
I'm not going to comment on the bulk of the allegations (at least one of which I find outright unbelievable) or NLADA's recommendations. But one thing is clear from both the report and the comments by those quoted in the article: the State of Ohio needs to step up to the plate with funds to guarantee that indigent defendants receive effective assistance of counsel. I'd hoped that once a Democrat took up residency in the Governor's Mansion we might see some real leadership on this issue, but so far, there's been nothing but silence from Ted Strickland.
This year marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which held that the right-to-counsel clause of the Sixth Amendment required the states to provide counsel to those who could not afford to retain an attorney. (It had long been established that the federal government was required to do so in federal criminal cases, but Gideon was the first time the Court recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated (that is, made applicable to the states) the protections of the Sixth Amendment.) It's clear that nearly a half-century later, we still have much work to do to protect those in our society who are most vulnerable to the loss of their liberty or life at the hands of the State.
A few months after the decision, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy had this to say about Gideon:
If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in prison with a pencil and paper to write a letter to the Supreme Court, and if the Supreme Court had not taken the trouble to look for merit in that one crude petition among all the bundles of mail it must receive every day, the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed.
But Gideon did write that letter. The Court did look into his case and he was retried with the help of a competent defense counsel, found not guilty, and released from prison after two years of punishment for a crime he did not commit, and the whole course of American legal history has been changed.
The report of NLADA's assessment is in sharp juxtaposition to this article, also in today's Enquirer, which reports that Ohio's machinery of death is once again churning.
A final note: nothing in this post should be read to impugn the individual attorneys who toil at the Hamilton County Public Defender's Office, or at any other Public Defender's office in Ohio. The attorneys who work there are eager, bright, talented individuals (most of whom could practice in the private sector for far greater pay and far fewer headaches) who are tirelessly devoted to passionately advocating for their clients with too little salary, too few resources, and not nearly enough support. But we need to start thinking about whether--and if so, how--our Public Defender's Office differs from those held out as models of indigent defense, such as the Cook County (Illinois) and District of Columbia public defenders' offices. The answer starts with adequately funding the office charged with safeguarding the liberty of the people of this county.
Now, Parker Flats, right across the street, is in its final construction stages. I thought it was worth a picture today:
Obviously, there's still a lot of interior work to be done before the place is inhabitable. Still, it's hard to believe that last summer, this was just a big hole in the ground.
We've already seen the benefits of the expansion of the Duke Energy Center (the unexpanded version simply couldn't have handled events like the NAACP convention or the upcoming National Baptist Convention). Parker Flats is sure to bring more residents downtown and further helps to revitalize the western end of Fourth Street. Seems like things are looking up. I just hope no one steals my catalytic converter.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Fountain Square will be a great national news location to get opinion on the speech, so be on the lookout for the media and be sure to show your support for Sen. Obama and show that he has great support in Cincinnati. Obama is going to win Hamilton County this year!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Commissioners Portune, Pepper Proclaim Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride DayYes, you'll want to pay attention to the link, which is to the CCV's website. I hate to link to it, but that is news I want to make sure people understand, COAST and CCV appear to be in bed together. To claim that this somehow wastes county money is laughable. These types of proclamations are common and cost virtually nothing. Where was COAST in 2002 when the Commissioners proclaimed May 2, 2002 National Day of Prayer in Hamilton County, Ohio.?
In yet a further waste of County resources, Commissioners Todd Portune and David Pepper proclaimed Saturday, June 14, 2008, as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Day. COAST is just bursting with pride at this proclamation on behalf of our County. We are sure Simon Leis is also proud of his endorsed County Commission candidate. Read about the resolution here.
What's more important, however, is that the CCV article is full of bigotry. Will all COAST members stand by this bigotry? Will groups and individuals who work with COAST stand by them?
Monday, July 07, 2008
I realize that as Cincinnatians, it's our sworn duty to hate all things black-and-gold. But I've always thought that Pittsburgh is a good point of comparison for Cincinnati. We're nearly identical with respect to population. Our weather and geography are very similar (Pittsburgh's is a little more challenging, since the rivers actually cut through the city). Both cities' residents are extremely neighborhood oriented. And our baseball teams play to approximately equal levels of futility (though more turn out to see the Reds).
The Times piece describes a pretty vibrant city. My question: could a similar piece be written about Cincinnati? And if not, then why not: what does Pittsburgh have that we don't have?
For what it's worth, the most significant difference I see between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh is the latter's Oakland area. It's a concentration of the city's colleges (chiefly, Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, but also Duquesne and some smaller schools). There's no equivalent in Cincinnati (though I'm not arguing that makes Cincinnati a "worse" city, just different).
There is one other difference that I keep raising that none of you seem to care about. Inclines. It's all about inclines, darn it!!!
Full disclosure: I lived in Pittsburgh for four years (1988-1992) and graduated from a Pittsburgh public high school. I have never, however, rooted for the Steelers.
On a side note, I think I need to subscribe to the Business Courier.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
I (and others at this blog) have taken issue with Larry's sometimes-too-pessimistic attitude about Cincinnati. But that hasn't stopped me from reading (and looking forward to reading) his work on a daily basis. When I do my daily blog reading, I generally check the Cincinnati Blog, the Porkopolis Blog, and the LOL Blog, in that order. (Please, no lectures about using a blog reader. I'm too old school to learn that trick.) I'll greatly miss my daily dose of Larry. (Lately, though, it's a good thing I'm my own boss, since the LOL blog is the epitome of "not safe for work.") Larry's posts always get a reaction--sometimes it's laughter, sometimes disagreement, sometimes just a frown and "What the hell was that about?" But it's a reaction, nonetheless. Larry is lots of things, but vanilla is not one of them.
The good news is that Larry will continue to write for CityBeat. He also reports that he's working on two books.
I may have to stop into Madonna's some afternoon and buy him a drink.
The end for the bum haven along 12th Street must come to an end once the K-12 SCPA opens. Start your efforts now, don't play games with confrontations later on, just to get the publicity. Start the change and don't use people's drug habits to try and gain more donations.
So if the City is going to try and clean out the bums from Downtown to help make the city look a little nicer for big national event, I'm OK with it, as long as those getting cleared out are breaking the law. If they go after the bums sitting peaceably in a chair on Fountain Square at 9 AM on, then that is oppression.
Friday, July 04, 2008
I'm more put off by the snotty anti-Cincinnati tone I feel from Ms. Pione. It is like she is sick of all of the reporters/staffers who live inside the 275 loop telling her that Butler county sucks. Well, outside of the IKEA, and Miami University (and other places that know they are cool), it kinda does, from the perspective of a person who likes a little more than cul-de-sacs, strip malls, ignorant Republicans, and a bigoted Sheriff. So therefore when I do finally make my way up I-75 to IKEA, I will back a cooler with rations for the long haul.
On the topic of her column, I firmly state that I am in favor of great medical care facilities, wherever they may be. I really think Carolyn needs to rethink the notion that anything in area, let alone most of Ohio/Indiana/Kentucky, will rival the world class medical facilities in the one and true "Pill Hill" in and around the University of Cincinnati.