Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cincinnati Police Accused of "Targeting Athletes"

According to this report, some ESPN guy named Ric Bucher, during a discussion of Cedric Benson's arrest on ESPN radio this morning (on Mike and Mike?) claims that the Cincinnati police target athletes.

Bucher claims to be able to make this assessment because he's a "Cincinnati native." How long has it been, one wonders, since he's actually lived here? And can he cite an example of an athlete that was arrested because the police (a) knew he was an athlete, and (b) targeted him for that reason? And does Bucher mean the Cincinnati police specifically, or Cincinnati-area police departments in general?

Seems like quite the over-generalization to me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is Kroger A Responsible Corporate Citizen?

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) "is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida." For the past decade, it has been working with (and sometimes against) large purchasers of produce to adopt standards to ensure that farm workers are treated humanely and paid something approaching a fair wage. (See this Wikipedia entry.)

It turns out that some of the worst working conditions in the US are found on tomato farms throughout Florida. Things are so bad that a couple years ago, two farm overseers were convicted on federal slavery charges. One of the farms that utilized slave labor was Pacific Tomato Growers. (Keep track of that name.)

In the past few years, several major companies have changed their tomato-purchasing practices in response to pressure from CIW. Those companies, which include Chipotle, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King, and Whole Food Market, have adopted the "penny-per-pound" initiative, through which tomato pickers' wages are increased by one penny per pound of tomatoes picked.

Enter Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation's largest grocery chain. CIW has been seeking cooperation from Kroger in improving the conditions under which tomato pickers are forced to work. So far, Kroger has been resistant to the effort. The company seems almost intentionally oblivious to the plight of those who pick its produce--so much so that, as it turns out, Kroger sells tomatoes grown by Pacific Tomato Growers. Yep, that's the same farm we told you to remember two paragraphs ago.

Other companies have managed to stay profitable while supporting the dignity and human rights of those who pick the produce they sell. Why can't Kroger follow suit? And do we Cincinnatians have a special obligation to pressure our hometown grocer to do the right thing?

Texting While Driving Ordinance Is A Bad Idea. And You Might Have To Give Up Your Tom-Tom!

Jane Prendergast reports that City Council is poised to enact a ban on "texting while driving" within city limits. The law, being pushed by Chris Bortz, would be a minor misdemeanor for first offenders--carrying a fine of up to $100--and an unclassified misdemeanor for repeat offenders, who could be fined up to $500.

It's a bad idea.

Bortz's motion is available here. Given that the motion points to Columbus's TWD law as a model, the ordinance (which has not yet been written) will probably have the following characteristics:
  • TWD will be a "primary offense." In other words, police can stop a driver on suspicion of TWD without observing any other traffic offense.
  • Dialing a cell phone will not be banned.
  • TWD while at a red light will be banned, but TWD while parked (out of the flow of traffic) will not.
So why is this a bad idea? First, the obvious: how does an officer know whether a driver is texting or dialing? An officer who pulls someone over cannot simply demand a motorist's phone and look through it. Instead, the Ohio Supreme Court has recently held that in order to examine the contents of a cell phone, an officer needs a search warrant. I can't wait to start watching trials in Hamilton County Municipal Court that are all about whether a driver was dialing or texting. That's just what the criminal dockets need: more traffic trials (usually with pro se defendants).

Second, the law is over-broad. My cell phone package includes a GPS program. As I read the Columbus law, even if I punch in my destination address before starting the car, I would be breaking the law if I look at the turn-by-turn directions on the phone while at a traffic light or stop sign. Nothing prohibits me from looking at a separate GPS device, or having an old-fashioned map spread across the steering wheel, or a sheet of paper with directions from Mapquest in my hands as I drive. But I could be fined one hundred bucks for trying not to get lost during a foray into Northside. That doesn't seem fair. It probably also isn't Council's intent; it is, however, prohibited by the proposed ordinance.

I originally suggested that a GPS device was OK. But re-reading the Columbus law, which bans looking at "internet-based content" on a "mobile communications device," the law as written applies to GPS devices. Of course, police won't enforce the law against a guy looking at his Garmin. And that will lead to a challenge of the ordinance on the grounds of selective enforcement.

Third, this ordinance will be just one more pretext to pull people over. I can already see an officer's arrest report:
Observed defendant holding something in his hands and looking at it. During traffic stop for suspicion of TWD, defendant made furtive movements with his hands, causing this officer to fear for his safety. Officer approached the vehicle and ordered the defendant out. After defendant was handcuffed for officer safety, the vehicle was searched and ________ was found.

Is this really a good use of City resources? The Enquirer has recently run stories about the cost of police overtime for court appearances. Do we need another reason for officers to come to court in pursuit of a hundred bucks for the city coffers?

This would be an awfully good time for those conservatives who like to complain about "the nanny state" to speak up.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some Props for MidPoint

A very nice article in the Enquirer singing the praises of the MidPoint Music Festival. The festival schedule hopefully will be out in July. Until then, focus on Friday Nights, when you can see great music on Fountain Square for FREE!.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WLW Reporting Police Chief Thomas Streicher Retiring

700 WLW-AM is reporting that Cincinnati Police Chief Thomas Streicher is retiring. No details were included. Is there any additional info out there confirming this report?

Earthquake Felt This Afternoon In Downtown Cincinnati

Griff and I don't consider ourselves reporters, but I thought I'd break that rule for now.

A few minutes ago while on the sixth floor of my ten-story office building, I began to feel a rocking sensation. It seemed as if the whole building was rocking back and forth; it lasted for about 30 seconds.

My Facebook page is lighting up with similar reports all over downtown. I've heard from friends in Buffalo who say they felt something at about the same time.

This felt like a slightly stronger version of the minor earthquake we had early one morning a couple of years ago.

UPDATE: 700 WLW is reporting that this was the result of a magnitude 5.5 earthquake near Ottawa.

UPDATE 2: Here's a report from CBC News confirming the origin of the quake.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Watson Named Campaign Manager For Reece

CityBeat reports that Bernadette Watson, former candidate for City Council, was appointed as campaign manager for Alicia Reece's run for the Ohio House 33rd district's seat.

This is a lock seat for Reece, so her campaign team needs to be competent, not world class. I will be interested in seeing if this is a hands-on job for Watson, or will she be more of a figurehead? She might serve as more of a strategist, than as a day to day manager of staff and message.

PETA Loves a Butterless Jesus

The Oxford Press reports that PETA, the pro-animal rights group, has offered to rebuild the "King of Kings" statue located at the Solid Rock Church in Monroe. The statute known better as Touchdown Jesus and Big Butter Jesus, burned down recently after being struck by lightning. PETA sent a letter to the church leaders proposing a new statue of Jesus holding a lamb with an inscribed message reading "Blessed Are the Merciful. Go Vegan."

No word yet from the Church.

You can't make this stuff up.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Watch This: The Evolution of the Internet (or Play Bingo at Hamburger Mary's This Tuesday!)

I've been meaning to write a post about Watch This for some time, but I've also wanted to put something together about how it fits into the broader context of the internet. Here we go.

Ten years ago, it was popular to point out the following paradox: while bowling alley revenues were increasing, bowling league participation was decreasing. The idea was that people were becoming more and more isolated from each other. And the internet, at one time heralded for its ability to "connect" people, wasn't counteracting that trend. Generally speaking, it was thought that the internet was enabling people to avoid in-person contact with each other. Why go to a "brick-and-mortar" store when you can buy everything online? Why go to a bar when you can get a six-pack, stay at home, and go to a chat room? The blogosphere is largely part of this phenomenon: you've got the conservative bloggers, liberal bloggers, libertarian bloggers, and so on. You can manage to avoid all contact with anyone who might disagree with you.

Over the past couple years, I think there's been a backlash against that. People don't want the faux connectionalism of the internet; they want the real thing. So the internet has become a tool to create and facilitate real, face-to-face interactions. Cincinnati Imports in a manifestation of this trend. Candace Klein's Bad Girl Ventures is another example of using the web to create connections between people that go well beyond fiberoptic. And Watch This also shows the power of the internet to get people together in the physical world.

For those of you who don't know, Watch This is the brainchild of Alex and Allison (who, I believe, actually met at a Cincinnati Imports event). The idea: watch all of the movies on the AFI Top 100 Movies list in 2010. It started off simple enough. Alex and Allison would screen each of the movies in their living room, inviting anyone who read their blog to come over. Then, others started offering to host movies. Then they started to book larger facilities (including the 20th Century Theatre and, later this month, Fountain Square).

I'm ashamed to say that they're nearly halfway through the list, and I still haven't been to a screening. I'll fix that soon, though (how can any lawyer worth his salt NOT show up on August 27th for To Kill a Mockingbird?). Showing up at a non-friend's living room is a bit out of my comfort zone. But if you're like me in that regard, fear not: lots of future screenings are at places like Take the Cake, Baba Budan's, and Grammers.

It turns out, though, that you can't just rent a movie and invite a bunch of strangers to a public place to watch it. Instead, you've got to pay for the screening rights to do that. So tomorrow night, Hamburger Mary's is hosting a fundraiser to help defray those costs. From 8:00 to 10:00, you can stop by the restaurant/bar (on Vine between Ninth and Court) and play drag-queen bingo. Apparently, there's prizes. And Hamburger Mary's has invented a drink for the occasion--vodka cherry lime with Cotton Candy.

So if you've been to one of the movies, or if you think you might go, pop into Hamburger Mary's for a fun, bingo-filled night (there's even prizes!). And show up to a movie sometime; I know I will.

(I do have one question about Watch This: when the movie is hosted at the Cincinnati Athletic Club, does everyone go for a naked swim afterwords?)

Here's An Actual Socialist

Want to know a real live socialist? The Enquirer profiles one and you can get an idea of the extremism he represents, and as the article points out, President Obama isn't a Socialist.

If you ever read about Dan La Botz attacking OTR redevelopment efforts, take the fact that his motivation is politics, not anything else, when evaluating his message. Every position he takes will be against any type of capitalistic action, so even if there are efforts that will help people transition out of poverty, if it is not done on his terms, then I don't see him supporting it.

This type of thinking is rampant in the 'Homeless' activist community and keeps the problem worse than is should be. Many people, like La Botz, would rather keep people living in Washington Park instead of accepting good plans from the City or other local groups. They do that because they want Socialism to run the city and country, and need the weapon of poverty to make their case. Take away their weapons and their case against capitalism falls apart. Extremists like La Botz are little different than the nuts at COAST. They have a purist ideology, but no actual concept of how to govern.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 Returning???

CincyVoices reports on a recent online comment which indicates may be back. No details are known on how or when, except the key element that the DJs who made the station what it is, are either looking for work or in the case of one staffer have a job and looking to return to Cincinnati. I have to agree with Classicgrrl that without Joe, Shiv, Mike, you don't have much of a station.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cincinnati SPJ Awards

Last night at the Blue Wisp (which is neither closed nor boring, by the way), the Cincinnati chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists had its annual awards ceremony. For a run-down of awards, see this Enquirer article. Kevin Osborne was awarded for having the best news blog, while was deemed the best website.

One award not mentioned: Lauren Bishop (aka Miss Print), with Stacy Doose (video) and Michael Keating (photo), won first place for web news feature for this piece marking the thirtieth anniversary of the tragedy at The Who concert at the Riverfront Coliseum. We had linked to it when the article first appeared, thinking it was a great read for anyone not old enough to remember the event.

Congratulations to Lauren and all of the Cincinnati SPJ winners!

Is "Black-on-Black Violence" A Myth?

Earlier this week, the Enquirer reported that several local non-profit agencies are working together to "curb black-on-black violence."

This piece, currently available at The Root, posits an interesting thesis: that the label "black-on-black violence" is an unnecessarily racialized view of problems that are really socioeconomic in nature. From the op-ed:
At this particular moment in our history, it is more important than ever to reject these kinds of racialized explanations. They are being used to slander public school children as incapable of learning; to deem affordable housing a hopeless cause. In gentrifying cities, ''black-on-black crime'' is used as a weapon to encourage public policies that treat black people as blights on the new urban aesthetic. There is a moral imperative to challenge these assumptions.

I've not fully thought this through, but I thought the piece made some good points (after all, have you ever heard a crime described as "white-on-white violence"?) that might be of interest to our readers.

And with respect to the linked Enquirer article: I should note that apart from the headline, the article doesn't use the phrase at issue. And, in fact, the body of the article does a pretty good job of exploring the socioeconomic causes of urban crime.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gumption Awards Honor Cincinnatians For Progress on June 23rd

Head to OTR Venue 222 on June 23rd to honor Bobby Maly, Rob Richardson, Jr. and Joe Sprengard from Cincinnatians for Progress who are being awarded the Charles P. Taft Civic Gumption Award.  Information on tickets is Here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jack Kerouac's On the Road to CAM

The Cincinnati Art Museum brings On the Road to life with a full reading of the Jack Kerouac masterpiece. Local celebrities, actors, and Art Museum staff will read the Kerouac signature work from 11 AM to 5 PM on Saturday June 19th. Admission is free!

This event is part of the See America program:
Now through summer’s end, the Art Museum is presenting a series of exhibitions, installations, performances, and special events for visitors of all ages. Think of it as taking a visual road trip through the human and natural landscapes of this great country. The journey we’ve planned will take you and your family through art from all over this country, with an emphasis on the art of the Cincinnati area. You’ll find something new going on every week, so keep checking our online calendar and take the perfect staycation with us that you’ll remember for years to come.
As always for more information, check out

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is Monzel Running for Sheriff?

I am confused. No seriously, I am confused with which office Chris Monzel is seeking. I thought he was running for Hamilton County Commissioner. Based on the vote he made against a resolution condemning Greg Hartman's (aka Guy of Gisbourne) effort to pay for the Stadium budget gap by cutting funding for indigent healthcare, you might think he was running for the Sheriff of Nottingham.

‘Touchdown Jesus’ Destroyed by Lightning

I will not make a religious interpretation of this, but ‘Touchdown Jesus’ was destroyed in a fire reportedly started by a lightning strike.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mmm, Suckling Pig....

Mayberry's Josh Campbell did it again. Friday was his Don Ho Tiki Party, on the rooftop of Boost at 532 Reading. A combination of great food and interesting people made the evening memorable.

The food? Too much to mention, really. That's a suckling pig in the picture. Add to that lobster tails, shrimp, jerk chicken, crab salad, hickory-smoked pineapple rice, lime papaya salad, and three kinds of cake. And, oh, yeah, Molly Wellman was on-hand preparing authentic Tiki drinks. Somehow she made a drink that features violet liqueur into something other (something much, much, other) than a fruity, girlie drink.
And to top it all off: fireworks, courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds.

Hmm. Pictures in my post? I'm slowly becoming a less cool, more tolerant version of 5chw4r7z.

A Really Good Day for the Enquirer

Fair is fair. A few weeks ago, I and other bloggers expressed displeasure with the Enquirer over its characterization of a streetcar survey. Today, though, there's some great reading in the Enquirer, and I wanted to point it out.
  • A "First in Print" piece by Dan Horn (quickly becoming my favorite reporter) profiling a couple's foreclosure troubles. The couple are among many people who suffered more than necessary because the bank that owned their mortgage didn't properly record the transfer of their home's deed upon foreclosure.
  • A front-page, above-the-fold article by Sharon Coolidge placing Hamilton County's indigent care levy in context. Judging from the piece, Ms. Coolidge is clearly enjoying--and making good use of--the greater space her paper will give her to do analysis on political issues.
  • A "First in Print" feature by Howard Wilkinson (is he now the Enquirer's senior reporter?) on the meme we can't hear enough about, "The Year of the Angry Voter."
  • And the Enquirer's editorial lambasting Greg Hartmann's proposal to balance the stadium fund deficit by slashing the indigent care levy. (I believe this editorial was originally an op-ed by Tom Callinan that called Hartmann's suggestion an "indecent proposal," but the link to the earlier piece is broken.)
There's other good stuff in there as well (a nice article by Jessica Brown, newly-reassigned to the CPS beat, on the district's decision to explore alternative schools, as well as a fascinating piece by Janelle Gelfand--who, frankly, is one of the Enquirer's lesser-known gems--on the 90-year history of Cincinnati Opera). My Sunday paper, by the way, was an excellent accompaniment to a Mary-Cristo from Hamburger Mary's.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Final Day of Fringe

The 7th annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival has 1 more day left. More shows, more beer, more theatre, and more art await you! All you need to do is get off the couch. Lift yourself onto your hind legs and get down to the Know Theatre at 1120 Jackson Street in OTR and buy a ticket or five. For info on the shows go here:

If you have seen shows already, make sure you vote for the Audience Pick Of The Fringe. Voting closes immediately after the last show tonight.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Final CincyFringe Weekend Recommendations

Tonight and tomorrow are the last days of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, if you want to Catch a few shows here are some recommendations:

The Finkle's Theater Show
Tantric Acting at the Holiday Inn
A Short Lecture of a Different Time
Queer in the U.S.A.
A Night of Well Adjusted Ladies
Just Say Know
That One Show
Soul Juice

Aberrant Reflections on the Barbarism of You & I
The Finkle's Theater Show
A Short Lecture of a Different Time
The Council
Ain't That Good News
Sophie's Dream
Money Back Guaranteed
Blue Collar Diaries
True Body Project III
Queer in the U.S.A.

Best advice: Get your tickets on line NOW! Many of these shows are going to sell out well before the show starts.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Slap in the Face For Miller

The Cincinnati Business Courier is reporting that Mark Miller, Treasurer of COAST, lost his legal case against the Hamilton County Commissioners, in which he claimed certain commission executive sessions violated the Ohio Open Meetings Law. The Judge ordered Miller to pay the costs of litigation.

I've seen no word on an appeal, but I would expect one.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

World Cup at Fountain Square!

Are you looking to root on the USA against England in the World Cup on June 12th? Come out to Fountain Square where organizers will have the game on the big screen and will have beer flowing from 1:30PM to 5PM.

Monday, June 07, 2010

CincyFringe 22.5 Hour Play Project Starts Tonight!

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival's 22.5 hour play project starts tonight at about 12:30 AM after Fringe Olympics. There are still a few spots open. Here are all of the details:
Does a 12 day festival of explosive and experimental independent performing arts seem a little too…rehearsed to you? Is the honest, free-form flavor of unbridled creativity that runs rampant at the Cincy Fringe a little…over-polished for your spontaneous personality? Are you looking for the freshest of the fresh, the rawest of the raw, the spontaeousest of the spontaneous?

This year’s Cincy Fringe is embracing that critical mass of contagious creativity that incubates amid all of the artistic stimulation of the festival. We invite your participation in our first attempt at a 24-Hour Play Project.

Artists meet, are assembled into teams, given some very loose framework, synchronize their watches, and meet again 24 (or in our case, maybe something like 22 ½) hours later, each team with a short play that has been written, staged, rehearsed, memorized and ready to perform in less time than it takes for this lumbering old planet we’re sitting on to heave itself around on its axis.

-You sign up by emailing Participation is limited to 25.
-After Fringe Olympics on Monday, June 7 (around 11:30pmish) you and the other participants assemble in Know Theatre Underground. You will be randomly assigned to teams of 4-5 people.
-Your team will be given a series of elements (perhaps a phrase, an image, a prop, and/or something else) that you are required to work into your piece.
-Your team then has until 10:30pm the following day, Tuesday, June 8 to make a play! It should be 10-15 minutes in length (no more!), be completely original (so no adaptation of or borrowing from existing works—these are to be world premiers!), it must be at least somewhat rehearsed and finished (it's not an improv jam) and other than the required elements you’ll be given, there are no restrictions!

It is up to your team to democratically allocate responsibilities. Your team can write collaboratively or assign a head writer. Your team can say “screw text” and base it on improv, music, secret dreams, or anything else. Your team can appoint one director or not. Costume designer? Dramaturg? Foley artist? Decide what needs to be done and make sure one of you does it. Your team can all act in it, or some or only one of you can act in it. Your team can do whatever your team wants. Just keep your finished product to 15 minutes and be ready to perform—no matter what—at 10:30pm Tuesday.

A performance space. The event will take place on the Underground Stage. We will provide two chairs, a piano and two actor blocks for you to use or not use as you desire.

An audience. So make your show good. And invite your friends—admission is free as part of the Underground Series.

Access to props and costumes. During the hours of 2-4 on Tuesday afternoon, you are invited to Know Theatre’s stock storage to sign out any costume or prop pieces that you desire. We do take names and we do kick asses, so you will be held accountable for returning everything you borrow in the same condition in which you took it.

Rehearsal space. Sorry—you gotta be creative here.

Uptight rules and restrictions that otherwise stifle your creative spirit. This project is about the joy of feverish creativity. We want your piece to be original and we provide some unifying elements to get you going, but otherwise you will not be censored for content. Working in a short time frame with randomly assigned partners is an experiment and is sure to lead to surprising discoveries. Have fun! Oh, but keep your clothes on while you’re on the stage—nudity’s not allowed in the Underground. Liquor laws, blah blah blah.
If you do this, you might be on my team. Ahhh! The Horror!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Wendell Young Appointed to City Council

So, who was surprised to hear that Wendell Young was appointed to fill Laketa Cole's Council seat? The job had been Bernadette Watson's, but reports indicate she didn't get the appointment because she wouldn't guarantee the jobs of Cole's staff.

So, we have a new council member because Cole was given a job to avoid running against Alicia Reece. Cole in turn stated publicly that she was picking the person based on race, and one would pick a person who would keep her staff employed. Cronyism is common in politics, but it is not good for politics.

Yes, this sucks. Picking a person based on race is illegal. People have shed blood to make that happen. Politically speaking, Cole had no choice but to pick a black person to fill her seat, but why would she be so upfront about it and not get any flack for doing that? If Berding or Qualls or Bortz or Ghiz did the same thing, you know what we would be hearing. We aren't hearing that. Why are we not hearing Chris Smitherman screaming at the top of his lungs against Cole for publicly stating she was picking a person because of race? Yes, I think there's an obvious Conventional Wisdom answer to that question, but can anyone answer it honestly? Why is there not outrage about this? Why was it OK for Cole to Discriminate against every other race but her own?

Wendell Young seems like a very nice person, but he has not shown he has the passion needed to be a vibrant councilman. His campaigns have not been very strong, a sign he's not had the full commitment to get elected. The job is now his, so he has the power to show he was the right choice. I hope he is successful.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Fringe Day Two

Last night Fringe kicked off to a raucous start with great music and food that you may have missed. That's your loss. Tonight you get your first change to see performances, so go on-line to and buy your tickets!

Not sure what to see? More ideas on can't miss shows can be found in Metromix from Enquirer Theatre critic, Jacki Demaline.

My shows tonight are That One Show and Aberrant Reflections on the Barbarism of You & I.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Changes in Enquirer Coverage

It looks like the Enquirer's Politics Extra Blog will have a new voice: Sharon Coolidge, who will now be covering Hamilton County for the paper. For the past several years, Ms. Coolidge has covered the Hamilton County Courthouse. Jessica Brown, previously assigned to the Hamilton County beat, will now cover CPS issues.

No word yet on whether the Enquirer will shift someone to replace Ms. Coolidge, or whether the paper will now have just one HamCo Courthouse reporter (Kimball Perry). Dan Horn covers federal court issues, so perhaps he'll be split between the two now.

Either way, Ms. Coolidge's presence in the courthouse and her courthouse reporting will be missed.