Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Here's what the Internets has taught me:
Cincinnati has a population of about 332,458. Hamilton County's population is about 842,369. Its jail capacity (now that Queensgate is closed) is 1,448. That's about one bed per 581 county residents. (If Queensgate were open, total capacity would be 2,270 for a ratio of 1:371.)
Columbus has a population of about 747,755. Franklin County's population is about 1,118,107. Its jail capacity is 2,331, for a ratio of 1:479.
Cleveland has a population of 444, 313, with Cuyahoga County at 1,295,958. County jail capacity is 1,749. But Cuyahoga County is unique; in 2004, local municipalities operated jails with an additional (cumulative) 700 beds. That leaves a combined ratio of one bed per 529 residents.
Pittsburgh has a population of 312,819; a total of 1,219,210 live in Allegheny County. It has 2,700 jail beds, for a ratio of 1:451.
So what do we know? Of the three most populated counties in Ohio, Hamilton County has the highest number of residents per jail bed. I threw in Pittsburgh, because it is of similar size and nearby. It, too, has a lower ratio of population to jail beds than Cincinnati.
This is based on my quick tour of Google. I leave open the possibility that I have overlooked something critical to this analysis. But if it is correct, then it is maybe not so surprising that the jail is severely overcrowded.
Just so there's no confusion (or excuses): this is not a blogger meet-up or twitterer tweet-up or anything like that. So while a few of us will make the trek to Northside from our behind-the-keyboard location in the basement of our mothers' houses, that's not true of the vast majority who showed up at the last, very well-attended happy hour put on by Liz, Lauren, and Avani.
Hope to see you there!
Also, if you are looking for a way to spend your tax refund, look no further than Hugo for the Know's Post Tax Relief Fun! on April 16th from 6 to 9 PM.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Tickets are $20 and available on-line at www.newstagecollective.com or at the door. The final performances are April 2-4 at 8 PM and April 5 at 3 PM. Don't miss this show.
He has another blog post adding to the print article.
Yeah, I really don't see how anyone can see the Finney-Smitherman union as anything other than a "Fuck You" to the GLBT community.
Is Smitherman tilting the local NAACP to the right on some issues to appease Finney? This article puts that thought in my mind. That aside, I think the Enquirer needs to stop reacting to every press release from Smitherman.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Our college old and grand,
Proudly we shall ever hail thee,
Over all the land.
Alma mater now we praise thee,
Sing joyfully this lay,
Love and honor to Miami,
Forever and a day.
Read all about Miami's first ever trip to the College Hockey final four.
Yeah, I know this is done at the Enquirer on a regular basis, it is just not done enough.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
I will point people to well done first hand take from Redkatblonde.
Other reports and background are
a report from the Enquirer,
a webpage of resources from the event, and
photos of participants.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, when asked about the wisdom of the rules change, responded, "By the middle of the second quarter, most of our fans are too intoxicated to know what's happening on the field of play." He continued, "Fans only care that their favorite player is in the game, not what that player is doing."
So NSD has come to City Council looking for help. What do they want? A chunk of money? Stimulus funds? A tax break? No: they just need City Council to divide their property into two lots, one for the garage (which is profitable) and one for the mall (which currently is not). Such a division is apparently required in order to secure financing. Chris Bortz,--the chair of Council's Economic Development Committee--is standing in the way. According to the article:
At issue is whether Northeastern has a long-term commitment to the mall–or if it’s just asking for the separation so that it’s in a better position to sell the less lucrative retail space.“The question remains, ‘What if?’” says councilman Chris Bortz, who chairs the economic development committee. “We don’t want to be left in a situation where we have a dark mall and the attached parking garage is doing just fine. They may have the best intentions, but we can’t predict the future.”
Davis said the concern is unjustified. “What good is it to own a parking garage next to property that is vacant?” he said. “We’ve spent millions of dollars to buy this, and we want it to be successful. Fourth Street has great potential, and to say we helped turn Tower Place around, I’d love to put that feather in my hat.”
Bortz said he’s doesn’t plan to revisit Northeastern’s request until the council receives the firm’s plan for the mall. “It’s in a holding pattern for now,” he said.
So let's review. Tower Place Mall wants to bring new in new tenants. Its ability to do so is derived, at least in part, from its ability to secure financing to upgrade the facility. And its ability to get financing is dependent on the lot subdivision it is requesting from Council. But Bortz won't even take the matter up for consideration until Tower Place tells him who its tenants will be--which it can't do, because it's likely no one will commit until the financing is in place. Brilliant.
One wonders what the problem is here. Why does the legal division of the property make it more likely that we'll have a "dark mall" with a vibrant parking garage? That's nearly what we have now. And if NSD isn't able to secure financing, that is what we'll end up with for sure.Chris Bortz's experience with residential development has been an asset for City Council the last few years. But this is another example of how City Council is, on balance, pretty inept when it comes to downtown, non-residential development.
For those of you who favor the streetcar (as Bortz does), remember: a streetcar is great, but no one will ride it if there's nothing to do once you get off. Tower Place Mall sits just a block off the proposed streetcar route, and if it's revitalized properly it will be a significant draw downtown.
We threw millions of dollars at Saks to stay in town. We can't help another company out with a simple administrative matter? Why does it seem lately that if a development project isn't being run by 3CDC, Council just doesn't care about it? With regional unemployment at its highest in a quarter-century, City Council should be making it easier for business to operate, not harder.
How is the news business going to survive? Are people just not bothering to pay attention? Do they care anything about knowing what is happening in their community? I honestly wonder how people are consuming local news. As we get less and less of it, are they going to notice when it is gone?
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Furthermore, they must believe Civil Rights no long matter if they are going to use Chris Finney as a lawyer. The Beacon ponders this as well.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
First, our newest Council member, Greg Harris, is pushing Council to pass a resolution that would require Spring Grove Avenue, set for some resurfacing this spring, to have a bike lane. It looks like this will be passed at tonight's Council meeting. Harris has been doing a good job of picking his spots and judiciously using the bully pulpit that comes with an office in City Hall.
Second, the Enquirer reports that the City will begin painting "sharrows" on some streets this spring. Sharrows designate lanes as shared space for both motorists and bicyclists. For a little more information (and a picture of what a sharrow looks like) check out this blog post.
I'm still not giving up my car (or the right to curse at bicyclists who ride in the wrong direction on one-way streets downtown), but I'm glad to see the City making it a bit easier for those who do.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
But the Enquirer is going too far. A blog post by Jane Pendergrast links to a series of 92 photographs that someone posted to the website of a Fort Myers, Florida, newspaper. The pics are purportedly of Cincinnati firefighters on spring break.
I quickly went through the pictures, many of which are of bikini-clad beach-goers (okay, maybe I went through some of those more slowly). I'm not sure if all of the people pictured are supposed to be Cincinnati firefighters, just the men, some of the men, or what. I don't even know if any of the people who are allegedly Cincinnati firefighters really are Cincinnati firefighters--and the Enquirer doesn't seem interested in finding out.
I suppose this is the natural consequence of a newspaper attaching blogs to its website and recruiting its journalists to post. Ultimately, what the Enquirer staff posts there will be no better than what any other blogger posts on his or her own blog. The problem is compounded when the newspaper's website's front page links to blog posts in a manner indistinguishable from the manner in which it links to actual stories (the kind that appear in the print edition). So until you click the link, you don't know whether you've read a headline or a blog post title. Apparently, the Enquirer now considers the two to carry equal weight.
Besides the question of authenticity, Pendergrast's post raises the question of newsworthiness. Assuming some or all of the pictures are of Cincinnati firefighters, so what? These pictures are patently different from the "Real Men of Genius" videos publicized in the last few weeks. Those videos were apparently made inside firehouses and shown at an official event. Instead, in the pcitures, they're on vacation. They're not wearing CFD uniforms, or anything else that would identify them as firefighters. Firefighters are not elected officials. They're just municipal employees. Granted, they do a tremendously important job for the City, but they're still just employees in one of the City's departments. Are Parks Department employees now going to be subject to this level of scrutiny? Are we going to be treated to summer vacation pictures of snow plow drivers?
This reminds me of an odd moment I had the first time I visited Cincinnati. I wanted a local newspaper, and walked into a Walgreen's and asked for one. The clerk told me that the Enquirer was "over there." I didn't know what the name of the local newspaper was, and assumed she was referring to the National Inquirer. So I said again that I was looking for a newspaper. We went in circles a couple times before the poor clerk realized what a moron I am.
Given Pendergrast's post, I'm no longer sure there's such a big difference between the two publications.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I stopped in today for lunch, and wound up with a bagel sandwich (turkey, cheddar, and a garlic-herb spread on a sesame bagel) and a cup of soup. The staff was friendly and the food was good. I chatted with the folks behind the counter as I waited for my sandwich, and learned a little bit.
Giplin's steams its sandwiches. The machine on which this happens looks like a panini machine, only with steam billowing out from time to time. The result is quite good. The place is loosely modeled on a similar bagel shop in Oxford. (Maybe Griff can compare the two for you sometime--the only place I ever visit in Oxford is Area I Court.) But apparently, there are significant menu changes from the Oxford restaurant, and there's no affiliation between the two.
Gilpin's will be open for pretty long hours, planning breakfast, lunch, and after-hours service. In a few weeks, they'll have finished up an area upstairs where you can enjoy your meal while watching a game on TV. And they also have a catering service available. It all seems quite ambitious, but the folks running Gilpin's seem young and eager--aren't they supposed to be ambitious?
The menu seemed a little cumbersome at first. I grimaced a little when I was told that ordering a non-vegetarian sandwich is a "simple six-step" process, but it turns out that all of those "steps" merely involve choosing your bagel, your meat, your cheese, your spread, your cream cheese, and your veggies. They were very generous with the amount of turkey on the bagel. And the soup (chicken with rice) hit the spot. (Although given the size of the sandwich, it all would've been too much for lunch had I not waited until after 2:00 to eat.)
Anyhow.....the concept is cute, the staff is friendly and energetic, and the food is good enough for a return visit, especially at Gilpin's quite reasonable prices. So help stimulate the economy and go check it out!!!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
The HamCo Republican Party has already announced its slate of endorsed candidates. Of the five GOP candidates, only one, Rev. Charlie Winburn, is African-American. Last week, the Beacon published Tim Burke's response to an inquiry about whether the HamCo Democratic Party's ticket will be racially diverse. Burke wrote, "At least 50% of our City candidates will, almost certainly, be black." Last week, in two separate posts (here and here) Nate Livingston suggests that the Democratic Party isn't leaving itself much space to endorse candidates of color this fall. He also notes that the party has been slow to endorse black candidates; he forgot, though, (or was too kind) to mention in support of his argument regarding the parties' poor treatment of black candidates that in 2007, the Dems reportedly approached one of their endorsed black candidates, Wendell Young, about leaving the race to make room for Roxanne Qualls.
Tim Burke is a lawyer, and we lawyers always have a tendency of talking in a way that makes you wonder if you really know what the meaning of "is" is. He writes that 50% of his party's "City candidates" will be black, not that 50% of the City Council candidates will be black. So, he leaves himself room to include Mayor Mallory as a "City candidate," meaning the party would need to include only 4 African-Americans on its Council slate in order to fulfill his pledge.
Where do we stand now? Historically, the Dems endorse all of their incumbents. So Berding, Cole, Harris, and Thomas will all be endorsed, barring any surprises. As mayor, Mark Mallory's voice carries a lot of weight in the party (much as a sitting president's voice has significant impact in a national party). One would anticipate, then, that Quinlivan and Fischer, already endorsed by Mallory, will be endorsed by the party. And given that Representative Driehaus is a fairly politically astute politican, it'd be surprising if he endorsed a candidate that wasn't headed towards his party's endorsement; that means Nick Hollan would be the party's seventh endorsed candidate.
That calculus means that, if Burke's prediction is to come true, both of the of as-yet-unknown endorsed Democrats will be black. (And this assumes that Qualls won't seek to return to her home in the Democratic party and will instead continue to run with only the Charter Committee's endorsement.) Assuming that leaders in the party have people in mind for these spots, why haven't they had the media rollouts thus far enjoyed by Fischer, Quinlivan, and Hollan?
In a city whose population is nearly 50% black, why does the Democratic party seem to have such a hard time identifying black candidates? This is particularly perplexing given Burke's assertion that 50% of the 220-member Cincinnati Democratic Committee is black. Are black candidates out there and being ignored or snubbed by the party? Does the party need to do a better job of identifying and nurturing black candidates? The HamCo GOP is on a mission to identify viable candidates from the suburbs to take control of county government. Should the HamCo Dems have a similar focus on identifying and supporting black candidates (for either City offices or county offices)?
I generally don't blog on issues of race--not because they're not important or interesting, but because I'm not sure I'm skillful enough to do so in a way that furthers intelligent public discourse. So let's (please!) keep things calm and civil in the comments.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
- Jeff Berding isn't quite ready for the fall campaign yet; he's still using banners with the slogan from his last campaign, "New Leadership for Change." I'm not sure you can run on that theme when you're an incumbent.
- Greg Harris was out, meeting people and shaking hands. So were Amy Murray and Chris Monzel.
- Laure Quinlivan had some folks carrying her banner, but I didn't see her. That's kind of strange.
- There were some Council candidates in the parade who I'd not known were running. Brian Garry (who finished 18th in 2007's race) is gearing up for the 2009 campaign. Lemaque Ward, founder of the Cincinnati Dream Academy, was energetically shaking hands, even at the parade's conclusion on Plum Street. Kevin Flynn, an attorney whose website indicates he is endorsed by the Charter Committee (I haven't seen any announcement about their full slate of endorsements--can someone point me?) was present.
And there was another new candidate whose name I don't quite remember--Polovich, perhaps? (Someone help me out here.)Steve Pavelish, who finished 23rd in 2007, was out shaking hands.
- Steve Chabot hasn't stopped campaigning since 1994 and today was no exception. And either Jean Schmidt or her twin sister was also in the parade.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I just saw on Facebook (and there's also a story at WCPO) that Modern Mom is sponsoring a contest; first prize is a Florida getaway vacation to Disney World. Sergeant Bezdek's wife, Toni, has entered a video. To see (and, hopefully, vote for) her video, go here.
As of a few minutes ago, the Bezdeks have a commanding lead, with over 15,000 votes, constituting about 97% of all votes cast. The contest runs through next Friday. You can vote once per computer per day.
There's a lot of platitudes that could be written here. Suffice it to say: Bezdek's a guy who was injured while trying to protect our community, and who by all accounts is making an unabashedly courageous recovery. So point and click a couple times, and help him, his wife, and his kids get to hang out with the Big Cheese for a few days. Vote!!! I can't think of a family more deserving (and perhaps in genuine need) of a few days of fun in the sun.
And I suspect (apart from possibly noting the results of the contest next week) that this is the last time this blog will ever link to Modern Mom.
JenJen (a/k/a Tavern Wench, my favorite bartender blogger), alerted us to the news on her own blog and in the comments to the post below. I wanted to bump the story to provide a thread for folks to share their thoughts.
A woman sends a letter to an advice columnist with the following question:
How do I tell my fiance that I want to adopt children, because he's so ugly I don't want to bear children that might end up looking like him?
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
This morning, as I drove to the Justice Center a little before eight o'clock, the traffic light at Central Parkway and Vine was out. I'd heard about the problem on the news; I hadn't realized that the light wasn't even flashing red, but was just dead. So I was pleased as I approached the intersection to see a police car, lights flashing, parked at the corner. I assumed an officer was directing traffic at the intersection. A good idea, given how many pedestrians cross Central Parkway there.
Nope. The officer was sitting in his car. Maybe he was there, prepared to catch anyone who didn't treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Beats me. But he sure wasn't much help to people trying to safely cross the street or drivers trying to navigate the intersection.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A trio of commentators have emerged today to use this week's events as an opportunity to raise the possibility that systemic failures in the criminal justice process paved the way for Esme's death. But the Enquirer editorial board, Peter Bronson, and several members of City Council all seem prone to histrionics, exaggeration, and outright falsehoods. So let's see if we can clarify the question they all raise: Why was Kirkland free?
The Enquirer reports that Kirkland was convicted in 1987 of killing his girlfriend and then setting fire to her body. That's obviously a horrible, horrible offense, and perhaps a foreshadowing of the most recent allegations against him. He was sentenced to serve 7 to 25 years in prison. He served 16, and then was paroled. From the editorial board:
Convicted of that killing, he received a 7-25 year sentence, which seems a light sentence given the grisly details of the case. He was paroled in 2003 and released from probation 13 months later. That's one big crack [in the system] - 16 years for intentionally immolating someone.
Should Kirkland have been paroled in 2003? I don't know. I wasn't at the parole hearing. I don't know what influenced the parole board to let him go. (The fact that he spent 16 years in prison for an offense committed while he was a teenager was probably considered by the board.) But this is why Ohio sentencing law changed in the mid-1990's in favor of "truth in sentencing." We don't want parole board members deciding how long a defendant should serve; that's a judge's job. These kinds of indefinite sentences no longer exist. When we hear about people being released early for parole, we're hearing about "old law" cases--that is, offenses committed prior to 1996.
So, what about the years since Kirkland was released from prison? In 2005, he was charged with rape and aggravated burglary. But he went to trial, and a jury found him not guilty. I'm unwilling to fault "the system" for that. In 2007, he was twice charged with crimes. The first time, he was charged with two counts of kidnapping, inducing panic, and endangering children. This is where Bronson jumps the shark:
But he wound up serving just 115 days on two counts of unlawful restraint. One of the charges that was dropped was "endangering children."
Usually, when people talk about charges being "dropped," they're referring to the prosecution dismissing charges. But that's not what happened here. Instead, Kirkland went to trial and was acquitted of endangering children and inducing panic. He was found not guilty of kidnapping, but
guilty of the lesser included offense of unlawful restraint, a misdemeanor.
Later that year, he was arrested for importuning, a felony, and public indecency, a misdemeanor. Again, Kirkland went to trial. He was acquitted of public indecency, but convicted of importuning. And this is where the Enquirer editorial board's handle on the facts goes awry:
He went back to jail for about a year before being paroled again - another crack.
Umm, wrong. He didn't serve his sentence in "jail," he spent it in prison (at least the part of it he hadn't already served by the time his case went to trial). What's more, he was sentenced to the maximum sentence: one year. He was also classified as a sex offender as a result of that conviction. He was not released on parole--parole no longer exists. Instead, once he served his full sentence, he was placed on post-release control, or PRC. PRC is supervised by the Adult Parole Authority and begins after certain offenders have completed their sentence. It is not an alternative to prison. When an offender violates the terms of PRC, the Parole Authority has the option of returning him to prison for up to nine months or half of his prison term, whichever is greater.
And now we get to Kirkland's recent conduct and abode. While on PRC, he was ordered to live at the Volunteers of America halfway house. City Council has complained in the past (and does so again today) of sex offenders being relocated to Cincinnati to live at the VOA. But this isn't what happened in this case. Kirkland was from Cincinnati. Once he served the one-year sentence, he would have returned to Cincinnati. While our leaders are right to be concerned about Cincinnati becoming a "dumping ground" for sex offenders from across the state, that trend did not impact the Kirkland case. And wasn't placing him in the VOA, under at least marginal supervision, a better choice than no placement at all? City Council members question the propriety of permitting a "serial killer" to reside at the VOA, but that's not quite right. He wasn't known to be a serial killer at the time of his placement, and he wasn't being supervised in connection with the 1987 murder any longer.
Everyone raises a valid point about the VOA's ridiculously bad judgment back on February 29th, when Kirkland apparently was expelled from the facility for fighting with a fellow resident. It appears that the VOA didn't notify Kirkland's parole officer for three days that Kirkland had been kicked out. I cannot fathom why. The parole officer would have immediately reached out to Kirkland, and if he couldn't have found him, a warrant would have issued. Did those three days make a difference? We'll never know.
Cases like this rightly cause us to evaluate and re-evaluate our criminal justice system and its strengths and weaknesses. But such evaluation should be based on facts, not half-truths and fear.
Sorry for the long post.
No, I am not saying all Republicans want the city to fail, just those with the power. Those with the power would rather see the city slide into the river so attention and power and federal funding for the area could be reentered in the burbs. That would build up their power more, which yeah, is the goal of nearly every person ever labeled as part of the "powers that be."
I will applaud all 5 of the GOP endorsed candidates for City Council: Leslie Ghiz, Chris Monzel, George Zamary, Charlie Winburn, and Amy Murry. All I believe care about the city and in ways I may not agree with, want the city to succeed. Yes, that even goes for Charlie Winburn!
All of that said, sure there is a method to a short slate. When you want to try and gain a seat or two, then a short slate is logical plan to get you there. That hurts in the long run. You don't build up a big enough bench, which is a massive GOP problem right now that shows no signs of changing.
Monday, March 09, 2009
The festival runs May 26th through June 6th. More details are here from the Enquirer.
For the 3rd year in a row, TheConveyor.com is planning on wall to wall, beer to beer, and play to play coverage of festival. We'll have reviews and more here. The Fringe Blog will be back again and so will the overabundance of cheeky commentary from Fringe participants.
Visual and Film Fringe are still accepting applications until March 27th, so get full details at www.cincyfringe.com.
Friday, March 06, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I kept waiting for Griff to invite Jack, Julie, and me out to Pigall's to mark the closing but alas, the perks of blogging aren't what they used to be.....so I've had to settle for reading about other bloggers' last meals there.
Kate's random thoughts on a final four-star meal are here. Graham ate at Jean Robert's this week (okay...it was a couple weeks ago, but I'm trying to get his blog's name into the sentence). And go read which of Jean Robert's morsels got into Liz's belly here (yes, Liz blew it in her review of Adriatico's, but her terrific recounting of her Pigall's meal--as well as her great story on a foray into a sort of extreme-cuisine-meets-fine-dining-purgatory--has caused me to stop frothing at the mouth.
I'm sorry to see the restaurant go. I'm not sure how such restaurants fit into markets outside of New York and Los Angeles, particularly in the present economy. But such restaurants remind us why the phrase "culinary art" exists. Jean Robert, when he's at his finest, isn't just dishing up sustenance; he's creating art and memories. And I hope that downtown restaurant gets another opportunity to support a four-star dining experience).
CPS has held its ground. And so has the Enquirer, which today filed a lawsuit in the Hamilton County Court of Appeals to force the board to release the applications in response to Public Records Act requests.
I recognize that there is at least one good reason to permit applicants' names to be immune from public disclosure: good candidates might be discouraged from applying given that there's a guarantee that their present employers will learn they're seeking work elsewhere. But the only way to fix that is for the General Assembly to change the statute.
Besides being fairly illegal, the board's decision is also bad practice. Trying to compress the consideration of applications for its top job into as little time as possible leaves them with a wide margin for error. Moving into a time period in which (a) money will be tight and (b) the state's educational system may undergo fundamental changes, the board needs a strong, competent leader. But its process is making it less likely that one will be hired.
The Enquirer is represented by Jack Greiner, a partner at Graydon Head & Ritchey. It looks like Mr. Greiner has been practicing for about 25 years. My guess is that he bills at a rate of $350 or $400 per hour (perhaps more). Assuming I'm correct and the Enquirer wins its suit, CPS will be on the hook for his fees (the Public Records Act contains a "fee-shifting" provision, permitting a successful litigant to collect attorney's fees and costs).
HamCo GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou says his party will field "qualified" candidates in the next school board race. Given the current board's short-sightedness on this rather easy issue, I'll be leaning heavily towards casting my ballot for some "R's" in those races.
Finally, for those of you who were wondering why the lawsuit was filed in the appeals court, rather than in the Common Pleas court (our trial level courts): it's because of the nature of the suit. The Enquirer is seeking a writ of mandamus--essentially, an order compelling a government official to obey the law. Ohio law says that such suits, unlike ordinary suits for damages, may originate in any court--the applicable Common Pleas Court, a Court of Appeals, or even the Ohio Supreme Court.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Plans are also in the works for a Happy Hour on April 1st. No location has been announced.
I'm somewhat embarassed that I never posted on the imports' first Happy Hour. It was a great event! I was thrilled to meet some of the best bloggers in town. Liz and Lauren have pictures here. This last one is important: it memorializes the historic first meeting between Griff, on the right, and myself (note the somewhat awed look in my eyes). That's right, Griff and I had never met before that night. Anyhow, the event was fun enough that I'm looking forward to the April Fool's Day event. And it's so fun to hang with that crowd that I just might have to figure out what a twitter is and crash the next tweet-up....
Oh---for those of you who are concerned by the picture: the pornstache was a very, very, very, short-lived experiment in facial hair, and ended shortly after that night.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
It is that time of year again. Bockfest starts Friday March 6th and runs through Sunday the 8th. Friday is the big night with events starting at 6 PM with the Parade at Arnold's up to Main Street. Best viewing will likley be around 12th and Main, where the blessing of the beer takes place after the parade. Get your holy water burns at no extra cost!
Jake Speed takes the stage at 9PM at Bockfest Hall (Formerly Jefferson Hall).
Other places you may find me will be Arnold's and Grammer's, which are easy to get to via the free Bockfest shuttle!
Admission is free, so come on down!
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The situation is of some concern (but probably not as alarming as the Enquirer makes it out to be) to me. Yes, I'm a defense attorney and I'm never happy when someone is sentenced to jail--every jail sentence represents, to me, some form of societal failure or detriment. But I'm also a member of this community and a realist: sometimes, jail is the last, best option for punishment and deterrence. I think there are a couple things that could be done to encourage people to show up to serve a deferred sentence. But before I offer my suggestions, let's clear up some potential misconceptions about the Hamilton County criminal justice system.
First, it's extremely difficult to be sentenced to incarceration for a misdemeanor offense in this county. It happens in one of two situations: either the offense is particular violent (an assault or domestic violence conviction that goes beyond the "garden variety" version of those offenses), or the defendant is a recidivist. In the latter circumstance, sometimes we're talking about someone who was placed on probation and is now on a second or third probation violation, or someone who has multiple, close-in-time convictions similar to the one for which s/he is now being sentenced.
Second, the Enquirer reports deferral is only for "non-violent" offenders. If this is true today, it has not always been true over the past three months. Also, space is especially tight for female offenders. (My understanding is that this is because when Queensgate closed, the first floor at 1617 Reading Road was converted to a men's jail, decreasing the number of beds for women system-wide.)
Third, right now, judges don't always know whose sentence will be deferred and who will go in immediately. After the court imposes sentence, the defendant is taken from the courtroom by the criminal bailiff to the holding cell on the sixth floor of the courthouse, where s/he is thoroughly patted down. From there, s/he is taken across the street (via a connecting bridge) to the Justice Center, where s/he is processed. S/he is then informed if his or her sentence is being deferred.
So how do we get convicted offenders to show up to serve their jail sentences? There is no real "carrot" involved here; instead, the justice system has to find a "stick." I think there are four ways judges and prosecutors can influence defendants' behavior post-sentencing but pre-incarceration:
1. Charging escape. I haven't researched the caselaw on this, but my quick reading of Ohio Revised Code 2921.34 make me believe people who miss their deferral date could be charged with escape. This is because that crime applies to one who "purposely fail[s] to return to detention . . . following temporary leave granted for a specific purpose or limited period." If the problem is that the "temporary leave" is granted by the sheriff rather than the court, then the court could, upon request of the sheriff, order the temporary leave (in other words, the court "furloughs" the defendant). Of course, in this scenario, escape is a misdemeanor offense (meaning that the defendant would serve his time in the county jail rather than prison), so this could further exacerbate the space shortage, but the possibility of an additional six-month sentence is strong incentive to show up as ordered by the sheriff.
2. Charging contempt. As part of sentences of incarceration, judges could begin ordering defendants to comply with all sheriff-imposed reporting requirements (e.g., calling or coming in on the deferred sentence date). If the defendant fails to do this, the court could then impose an additional sentence for contempt. Again, this requires more utilization of bed space to initiate and more resources (this would be "indirect" contempt, so a hearing would be required). But the hope is that the mere possibility of additional incarceration would deter individuals from skipping out on their sentences.
3. Detail eligibility. If you've been to the Justice Center or the courthouse, you've no doubt seen inmates wandering about, seemingly unsupervised, collecting trash, mopping floors, and performing other custodial functions. These men are on "work details," for which they typically get two or three days of credit for every one day of detail work. (You generally hear this called "2-for-1" or "3-for-1.") This means someone who is sentenced to six months in jail can get out in as little as six months, or even less. Judges can make defendants ineligible for details, but rarely do so. The sheriff should make any individual who fails to report as ordered ineligible for work details that decrease the amount of time to be served. (I'd suggest the same thing for treatment programs that make mitigation by a judge likely, but (a) we should never make someone ineligible for treatment, and (b) last I knew, sentences were not being deferred for individuals who were serving their time in programs like men's extended treatment.)
4. Conditional sentences. This requires the judge and the sheriff to work together, so a judge will know, at the time of sentencing, whether a defendant's sentence will be deferred by the sheriff. If the sentence is to be deferred, the judge could announce a conditional sentence. For instance, if the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor (carrying a possible 180 days in jail) and the court wants to impose a 90-day sentence, if the sentence is to be deferred then the court could announce its intent to impose 90 days and instruct the defendant to report back to the courtroom for actual sentencing and surrender at the end of the deferral. The court would instruct the defendant that if s/he fails to appear for sentence, the court will impose the maximum 180-day sentence instead of the 90 promised.
No one would describe me as a "law-and-order" guy. But failing to obey a court order--like a sentence--should have consequences. My suggestions assume, of course, that judges are using incarceration only where appropriate: for particularly brutal crimes or as the last sentencing option, only when a defendant has repeatedly demonstrated, over time, non-amenability to treatment or other, more rehabilitative opportunities.
CEO, The Kroger Company
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202
RE: Downtown Cincinnati
Dear Mr. Dillon:
I write concerning the critical gap in the grocery market in downtown Cincinnati. As a downtown resident and worker, this is of serious concern to me. But more importantly, the issue raises a pressing business opportunity for your company.
Kroger has regularly been criticized for its only downtown/Over-the-Rhine store at 1420 Vine Street. We've even done our fair share of lambasting at the Cincinnati Blog. We certainly appreciate the company's efforts to revitalize the store during a few years ago. Ultimately, though, the store's footprint is simply too small for the store to one that your company can be proud to have in the shadow of your corporate headquarters.
A few days ago, because I was "in the neighborhood," I made my first visit to your "Fresh Fare" store in Kenwood. I'd never been to a "Fresh Fare" Kroger; I was impressed. Comparing the Vine Street Kroger to the Kenwood store is like comparing a summer weekend festival's attractions to those at King's Island. Wow. Wow, wow, wow.
The people of downtown and Over-the-Rhine deserve a quality grocery store from the grocery company so closely identified with the Queen City. But that's an argument that's been made for a long time, and one that repeatedly falls on deaf ears in the Kroger hierarchy. So let's focus on why Kroger's interests are served by an expanded downtown location.
More people live downtown and in Over-the-Rhine than did a few years ago. And while the Vine Street store is sufficient if we need a few things, it's not good enough for weekly shopping. That means that people who can do so drive outside of downtown to buy groceries. But once I'm leaving downtown, the chance that I go to Kroger (either to Bellevue or Hyde Park, most likely) is only one-in-three, at best. I might go to Meijer. I might go to Bigg's. Or maybe, I'll get wild and crazy and head all the way out to Jungle Jim's.
There's land available for a Fresh Fare Kroger. There's a big parking lot on the eastern edge of downtown known as "Broadway Commons." The owners don't seem really married to hanging onto the property. They wanted to sell to permit the building of the baseball and football stadia there. More recently, they were hoping a casino company would buy them out. I'm sure they'd sell to Kroger.
Think about the business a Fresh Fare store would do at that location. New residential buildings are opening all time in downtown and OTR. Within the next half-decade, residents will start occupying housing in the Banks. Kroger should already have a store in place by then; it's much easier to attract business from those looking to develop habits, rather than to change pre-existing habits--which is what will happen if Kroger continues to take a wait-and-see approach to downtown residency.
But it's not just your neighbors who would frequent a Fresh Fare store. Think about all the people who, on their way home from downtown jobs, would stop in your store to pick up dinner. Broadway Commons is on the way to I-71 from downtown. It's perfect!
I realize it's tough to think about expansion in this economy. But downtown and OTR is one of the few areas to which people continue to relocate. Kroger should take advantage of this, rewarding both itself with lots of new business and longtime OTR residents who have steadfastly patronized the vastly inferior OTR store out of loyalty to your company.
Kroger is a great Cincinnati company. It should have a great Cincinnati location.