Sunday, April 29, 2012

Delusions of Grandeur Continue to Flow From Smitherman Like a River

Today's article from the Enquirer's Jane Prendergast on Cincinnati Council Member Chris Smitherman was an interest read. I say that because my blog (and myself) were quoted and I represented the face of Criticism of Smitherman. I take that as a compliment. I try to give voice to issues and topics that don't get lots of press. Criticism of Chris Smitherman does not get much media attention. I am glad it got some today.

The other more entertaining portion of the article comes from a direct quote from Smitherman himself:
“I will become the mayor one day,” he says, though he won’t run in 2013 when Mallory leaves.
I don't know what planet Smitherman is living on, but it appears to be akin more of an alternative-reality than anything resembling the actual Earth, where the rest of us reside. Smitherman at best has a niche voter base that he segments more each time he opens his mouth in public. Unless he plans a cultural revolution to drive out everyone in the City who disagrees with him, then I don't see him winning an election for Mayor against nearly any other remotely credible candidate.

Those of us in the political opinion world would love to see him run someday, just to watch him lose in the primary. How a man who wants nothing more than the destruction of the urban core could think he could be mayor is beyond my comprehension. I guess that's why I can't see it as anything other than a delusion of grandeur. One thing I don't doubt about Smitherman: he has a high opinion of himself. That doesn't translate to anything unless you can make stuff happen. The only stuff he can make happen is gettting in the newspaper by making outlandish comments. Negative press attention in the end might earn you a day old bag of doughnuts, but little else.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wendell Young Sums Up Smitherman's 'Meeting'

Cincinnati City Council Member Wendell Young summed up the problem with fellow Council Member Chris Smitherman's special council meeting held last night. From the Enquirer Article:
“It is wonderful that we care,” he said, but it’s wrong to imply that this is the first time council and others have been interested in this topic.
Additionally in the Enquirer Blog post about the meeting, Young's comments were described as this:
People were deluded, he said, into thinking they would hear something new tonight.
This meeting was nothing but a show. It was a stunt to gain attention and make people believe that Smitherman and Winburn are doing something for black people. It was also a political tactic. The most brilliant aspect was to use the "black on black crime" terminology in the media. This gives Winburn something to appeal to the conservative, mostly White voters, that Republicans rely on for votes. Both Winburn and Smitherman have built narrowly defined voting blocks. Winburn's has more of a Coalition than Smitherman, so he needs to appeal to multiple angles of this issue.

No matter what, they got their media attention (yes including me). That gives them a slight boost to their reelection efforts. Each have to continue to walk the tight-rope of appealing to both Republicans and the Black Community.  Neither one will ever be able to totally rely on Republican votes alone, so they must play this game and it is sickening.

Quimbob over at Blogging Isn't Cool has more on the 'Meeting.'


Monday, April 23, 2012

Bunbury Music Festival Announces Set Times and Stages

The Bunbury Music Festival has announced the set times and stages for the three day event in July.

The five stages to cover the Sawyer Point & Yeatman's cove area are listed as:
Yeatman's Lawn
Serpentine Wall
L&N Bridge
Sawyer Lawn
Acoustic
Amphitheater

Sunday, April 22, 2012

2012 Second Sunday Schedule Announced

The Second Sundays on Main Street Festival returns this year and the dates and themes have been announced:

June 10th: Main St. Menagerie
July 8th: Music on Main
August 12th: Growth & Wellness
September 9th: Dance on Main
October 14th: Harvest Fest

For a detailed events schedule, check back here in the coming couple of months..

Friday, April 20, 2012

WLWT Has a Slide Show of People Arrested and Not Yet Convicted

WLWT has a slideshow on its website which is titled See Who Got Arrested - Photos: This consists of a slideshow, like you might see on the Enquirer's Metromix, with a caption listing the crime for which they were arrested. They've only been arrested, not convicted, and they have their pictures up. Most of the crimes are more serious crimes (murder, rape, assault) and a large number I've seen covered previously in the Enquirer with the same arrest photo.

I don't like this photo montage. I don't like it because it's tone is tabloid. It is like a raw dump of crime thrown on the floor for a rabid pack of viewers to consume. There's nothing unethical or knowingly false about what they reported, just how they are reporting it. If the television station wants to write a story about each person's alleged crime, many of which they have, then fine. Just throwing up a photo and adding a sentence below is not journalism and does a dis-service to the public.

What also is very disappointing is that this slideshow made editorial choices not based on a reasonable requirements of content, structure or relevance, but instead on marketing. This a group of people who got arrestest and that WLWT wanted to show in hopes of gaining a wider set of viewers looking for pictures to look at, not because they want to consume news. It is not even a full list of everyone arrested. The only definition listed of the group is this:
"WLWT.com posts some notable mugshots from across the Tri-State. An arrest does not mean anyone has been convicted of a crime."
Notable in this instance I believe means tawdry or what ever will get more eyeballs. Yes, I'm helping get more eyeballs, however I will suggest to WLWT that if they are going to do a police blotter style story, do it right or just don't do it. We don't need the pictures. Yes, pictures get you more web hits, but it is not journalism, it is exploitation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Surprise! The Enquirer Ran a Puff Piece on an Anti-Abortion Group

You are totally shocked, I am sure, to find out that the Cincinnati Enquirer ran an "In-depth" puff piece on an anti-abortion extremist group. The paper even has a photo collection so you can "meet" them.

This is nothing new for the newspaper. The Enquirer must appease the Westside and Conservative readers or they risk losing circulation.  Is that what they really risk? I am beginning to wonder if this is about business or about ideology of some editors.  For what ever reason, it has been come pathetic. Whether it is a puff piece on bus rides to Washington DC anti abortion rallies or blog posts on political tactics, the Enquirer has an anti-abortion bias in the newsroom. Yes, in the newsroom, not just the editorial page. The paper has a soft spot for the anti-abortion crowd and they don't disparage them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Horstman's Anti-Streetcar Bias Continues

Enquirer Reporter Barry Horstman continues to push an anti-streetcar bias in his reporting and this simple article about the locaion of the streetcar maintenance facility is his latest example. The story is straighforward, the city announced the exact location of where the Streetcars will be maintained, about two blocks north of Findlay Market. Horstman just had to add this stand alone sentence:
"On Monday afternoon, the only sign of commerce on the quiet block was an apparent prostitute trying to flag down passing drivers."
First, it is not even factual, it is supposition, unless he was the personal flagged down by the prostitute. There is no valid reason to include this comment. It has no relevance to article and is put there on purpose to disparage the project. There is no other explanation, and it is really disappointing that his editor let this get through. Horstman is far to biased to be reporting on the Streetcar, he can't even write a simple article about it without adding in bias. This needs to be addressed by the Enquirer management, or it will just get worse.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rich Patrons Don't Rule the World, Even the Arts World

Reading this article from the Enquirer on a 'protest' at the Cincinnati Art Museum, I come up with many points lost in the article and on the people protesting:

  1. This article would not have been written if someone with pull hadn't tipped off the Enquirer that this was going to happen.  I really hope it wasn't the rich patron who appears to pushing the issue with the Museum, but it was likely someone connected to that person.
  2. The issue isn't about money, it is about power within the Museum.  It appears to me that this curator wants a promotion and wants more control over what goes on at the museum.  What has he done to warrant that? Whose job would be lost for him? Does the rich patron care about that?
  3. It this curator is so great, why did his exhibit get the criticism from one of the article's author's blog? If he were to counter and say that the elements criticized were beyond his control, well, then if he wants to move up in management, he needs to make
I really enjoy the Art Museum and I hope patrons continue to support it, but staging a stunt like this makes people look foolish and ignorant. I would instead hope they use their time lobbying their elected officials to fund the arts.  If they don't want to do that, I suggest spending more time just raising more money to help the Museum be able to afford new cutting age art exhibits.  Money is the main factor in getting new and vibrant art at the Museum, not just one curator.

Great Article on Development in OTR

The Enquirer has a great article on development in Over-the-Rhine, specifically on what is still to come: projects like Mercer Commons. I enjoyed hearing from new residents who have moved here with different backgrounds and ages, especially the new couple who will be opening a new Seafood Restaurant near Washington Park.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Smitherman Still a Zealot with No Solutions

Cincinnati City Council Member and Local NAACP President Chris Smitherman is proving yet again that he has no solutions for difficult issues, he just wants to pretend he is doing something to fool people into thinking he is an effective member of council, when in fact he is a detriment to the City and all of its residents. This is more than evident from his email exchange with Council Member Cecil Thomas reported on the Enquirer's Politics Extra Blog. Here's the "shorter" version of the exchange:
Smitherman: Mr. Thomas, I have no plan, but you should hold a meeting so I can grandstand and pretend I am doing something about 'black-on-black' violence.

Thomas: Mr. Smitherman, I believe we have a program in place to help address that issue and I'm trying to get more funding for it. We can discuss this in the committee meeting on May 1st, just a few weeks away.

Smitherman: No, I want my meeting NOW, or I am going to have a hissy-fit! I will hold my breath until you give me my meeting or just force my own meeting. I still don't have a plan, I just need to pretend I am doing something.
Typical Smitherman. He still has no solution to address the violence plaguing the African-American community. He just wants a bigger soapbox to yell from so he can blame someone else for not finding a solution he can't find, himself. There is no easy or simple solution for this problem and there definitively is not a solution that will make anyone happy and win anyone re-election to any office.  The best solution would be for Smitherman to quit council or just stop pretending he's actually doing his job as a council member.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Did You Like Or Even Notice the Mayor's Speech?

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory gave the annual State of the City Speech last night at the Aronoff Center.

WVXU has more on the speech including the dueling Republican responses that CityBeat reported on yesterday. Current Council member Charlie Winburn appeared to give the Mayor an A+, while the "official" Republican response from former Council Member Amy Murray was more of the same in negative tone coming from most of the GOP on all levels of office. It says a lot about the Republican's influence in City politics when the only Republican they could get to stand up and criticize the direction the City is taking is a former Council member, who lost office last year. The only sitting member of office gave praise to the Mayor. The Republican Party despises the city something fierce, and mostly because we don't tend to vote them into office.

In case you weren't there or didn't catch the replay, here's the text of the prepared speech:
Fountain Square turned 140 years old last year.

Many of you know that the fountain was a gift to the city from Henry Probasco, a local Cincinnati businessman, in honor of his brother in law and mentor, Tyler Davidson. In its history, it has been a site of celebrations, civic engagement, festivals, parties, and even ice skating and broomball. And though it has always been a source of pride, up until several years ago, it had lost its luster. It had even become a site associated with controversy.

But then, because of the pride and commitment of Cincinnatians – the city of Cincinnati, 3CDC, and other partners decided to invest in the square and to promote it as the place to be in Cincinnati.

Fountain Square has become just that, the heartbeat of the entire region and the focal point of everything that is happening downtown.

In order to look to the future of our city, it is important that we maintain a connection with Cincinnati’s past.

The essence of Fountain Square is not in the big TV screen that sits on top of Macy’s; it is in what Henry Probasco wanted to give to the city of Cincinnati, a gathering place, a place to celebrate, to reflect, and to be reminded of what it means to be a Cincinnatian.

That is the formula for a successful Cincinnati. Fountain Square embodies it.

Pride, Commitment, Investment, Partnership, and Promotion.

Pride can be a powerful motivator. It has gotten people to do a lot of things. It has gotten people to take care of their homes, and look after their neighborhoods. Pride has motivated people to start businesses.

It is important for us to understand our own history because it is pride that will ultimately move people to improve our city – both now and for future generations.

If you look around Cincinnati right now, you can see aspects of our history that should make people proud.

Pick a neighborhood: east side, west side, central; it does not matter. Our city is connected to history in so many ways, whether we are talking about philanthropy, business, politics, or sports.

It is important for people to take pride in their neighborhoods. I take pride in the neighborhood I grew up in. So many important figures came from the West End – mayors, council members, judges, state legislators, and that is just in my family.

And speaking of family, my father the first African American Majority Floor Leader of the Ohio House of Representatives, William L. Mallory, is here tonight along with my mother.

The City of Cincinnati has had four African American mayors, and they all came from the West End. The Isley Brothers; world heavyweight champion, Ezzard Charles; the beer barons of the 1880s; one of the early owners of the Cincinnati Reds – they all lived in the West End.

That history is a source of great pride for me. And there are many neighborhoods in this city that have just as much to be proud of.

Mount Adams: home to Playhouse in the Park; the Cincinnati Art Museum; and Rookwood Pottery, the first female owned manufacturing company in the United States; and Nicholas Longworth, a Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1920s.

Madisonville: Founded in 1809 by Revolutionary War veteran, Joseph Ward, and named after newly elected president James Madison. It was also home to Dr. Lucy Oxley, the first Black woman to graduate from the Cincinnati Medical College.

Walnut Hills: home to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

In Clifton, the first Hebrew Union College was established by Isaac Wise in 1875. The University of Cincinnati, where cooperative education was pioneered in 1906. And, Cincinnati State, nationally known for its school of culinary arts, which you are going to get a taste of when I am finished talking.

And there is Westwood, once home to James Gamble, an industrialist, civic leader, and inventor of Ivory Soap. Legal issues aside, the reason people on the west side are so adamant about keeping the Gamble House is that it is a huge source of pride.

And that is exactly what I am talking about. Every neighborhood should celebrate its own history.

We need to do more to celebrate our history in order to create more pride in Cincinnati. Pride inspires people to commit to improving our city. Pride also gets people to invest in making this city a better place.

Stan Chesley is a great example of that. He grew up in Avondale, and as a kid, swimming was an important outlet for him because he did not have much else. And I think you all know that Stan is a very successful attorney. But, he still takes a lot of pride in his community. So, what does he spend his time doing? Making sure that our public pools remain open. Making sure that today’s kids have that same opportunity that he had growing up. That is the type of investment that impacts the community.

Those individual investments are shaping the present landscape of Cincinnati. They are paying off.

Take businessman Greg Hardman. He left a successful career and decided to buy Cincinnati’s historic beer brands and bring them back to Cincinnati. He invested in our history. In February, he opened the Christian Moerlein Lager House at The Banks and hired 250 people. The place is always packed. And by the end of the summer, Greg will be brewing all Christian Moerlein beers in Over the Rhine, restoring Cincinnati’s grand brewing tradition.

Look at what else is happening at The Banks.

Two years ago, after a Reds game, win or lose, fans got into their cars and drove out of Downtown.

Tonight, after the Reds beat the Cardinals, fans will have countless opportunities to celebrate within walking distance of the stadium.

If they want to hear some country music, they can go to Toby Keith’s. If they want to get a milkshake, they can go to Johnny Rocket’s. If they want to watch highlights from the game, they can go right across the street to Holy Grail. As a matter of fact, the Holy Grail has been so successful since they opened last year that they have already expanded their space.

This was what The Banks looked like on opening day. PHOTO

And people ask me all the time, “Why do you focus so much on Downtown development?”

The truth is: Downtown is the economic engine for this entire region.

There is no West Chester without Downtown Cincinnati. There is no Mason without Downtown. There is no sub without the urban.

It all works together. A strong and healthy and vibrant Downtown Cincinnati benefits this entire region.

And our Downtown is very successful. That is why companies want to locate in Cincinnati. There is renewed energy. It is vibrant. It is alive. Last year, five companies either moved downtown or increased their investments in downtown.

First Financial Bank relocated their corporate headquarters to 5th Street. Omnicare moved 480 employees into the Atrium 2 Building. KAO USA is in the process of relocating its corporate headquarters into downtown.

And yeah, we lost 270 jobs last year when Chiquita moved to Charlotte. But you know what, Nielsen moved into the Chiquita building and brought 600 jobs.

And dunnhumbyUSA: they started in Cincinnati in 2003 with 3 employees. In March of 2009, I cut the ribbon on their current headquarters when they had 265 employees. Today, they have 520 employees. And just last week, we announced a deal to build a new office tower downtown, which will grow dunnhumby to 1,000 employees by 2014.

The bottom line is that business is thriving downtown.

And those companies are choosing downtown because it is the place to be. They see it as hot. They see that there is activity. They look at Fountain Square and see that there is something going on everyday. They look at the new restaraunts that are coming in; the anticipation of the new 21C hotel. And their employees have told them, “We want to be downtown. We want to be where the restaraunts are. We want to be able to ride the streetcar when it is done.”

And you all know that I could not let you out of here tonight without talking about the streetcar.

Well, we broke ground a few months ago, and we are moving water lines. And, for the last several months, our City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. and his team, Chris Eilerman, project manager, and Michael Moore, the Director of Transportation, have been working with consultants, engineers, and transportation experts from around the country to select the streetcar that we will purchase to begin our system. And tonight, I am happy to announce that we have made the selection. Here is what the car will look like. PHOTO OF NEW STREETCAR

It will be built by CAF USA.

And, before we are even finished with the first phase, we have started work on the second phase. I have already asked for federal funds to study which route will be used to connect to our assets in the uptown area—UC, the hospitals, the zoo, the EPA.

And, imagine for just a moment what the future of passenger rail transportation in this region could look like.

SLIDE 1 (phase 1 of the Streetcar)
Here is the first phase of the streetcar, connecting Findlay Market to the Riverfront. This is what we are currently doing.

SLIDE 2 (adds phase 2 of the Streetcar in Uptown)
Here is a potential option for phase 2. But it does not have to stop there.

SLIDE 3 (adds potential additional future phases)
Future phases could connect to Walnut Hills, the Museum Center, and Northern Kentucky. And rail transportation should include more than just the streetcar.

SLIDE 4 (adds potential light rail lines to the map)
We could do light rail along I-75 and I-71.

SLIDE 5 (adds potential commuter rail lines to the map)
And we could even add a passenger rail line along the Ohio River. And I have got to tell you, I do not believe that we should give up on the idea of high speed rail in this state. Remember, we have got to be willing to make investments for future generations.

The best investment we can ever make in Cincinnati is the effort to keep our community safe.

I have talked about pride. I have talked about investment. The formula for a successful Cincinnati also involves commitment.

And there is nothing more important than the commitment we must all make to keep the community safe.

Last year, we hired two new chiefs: Fire Chief Richard Braun and Police Chief James Craig. Both of them have made improvements in their departments. They have found efficiencies and they are both having a tremendous impact on this community.

A few months ago, while pouring concrete at the casino site, 13 workers were injured when the floor collapsed during construction. When I think about that day, I think about our first responders and their training, their professionalism, and their quick action.

Their response to that emergency situation was impressive. Our firefighters and police officers were organized. They were innovative. They literally built a bridge over a trench in order to evacuate the injured workers.

I am extremely proud of the quick action of our first responders on that day. I mention this to remind you that the city of Cincinnati is prepared to deal with emergencies and we are committed to public safety.

The formula for a successful Cincinnati involves the commitment we must have today and for our future. So, how do we shape Cincinnati’s future?

I talked to a recent college graduate who grew up in Cincinnati and left in the fall of 2005 to go to school. Her plan was to go to school and not return to Cincinnati. When she graduated last May and came back to visit her parents, she saw that the city had changed.

She told me personally, “Mayor, this is a different Cincinnati than the one I remember.” She said she decided to stay because she was optimistic about Cincinnati’s future.

Her story shows that what we are doing is paying off. If you look at how far we have come, I believe we should be feeling good about Cincinnati.

Where are we going in this city? What does our future look like?

For the last two years, Charles Graves, the planning director, and his team have been engaging the community, talking to people about what they want to see developed in their neighborhoods. (PLANNING VIDEO)

I talk about the city as a whole and how we view Cincinnati, but people analyze their individual quality of life by their own neighborhood. I talked about neighborhoods earlier in the speech because that is what we see every day.

We know what we like about our neighborhood and we know what we want to see changed.

The comprehensive plan will be our guide to making those changes happen.

In order to find out what people want, we actually talked to people. We had open houses and meetings in communities across the city for two and a half years. We talked to college students and to high school students.

We even talked to kids. (PICTURES OF CHILDREN’S POTS) In fact, we had kids decorate clay pots with what they wanted to see their city become. The concept is that they planted their dreams in these pots.

Now, it is our responsibility to grow their dreams, to water them. We have to provide nourishment and the proper environment, to make sure their plans see the light of day so the dreams of Cincinnati’s children become a reality.

That is the responsibility that we have as civic leaders. This is exactly what we are doing, preparing our city for the next generation of people. This is why we are building the streetcar. This is why we do all the development that we are doing in Over the Rhine, Downtown, and in our neighborhoods. This is why we are working hard to attract companies here to create jobs.

I have talked about pride, investment, commitment. Here is the fourth element, partnership.

All of you know that 3CDC has been working in partnership with the city of Cincinnati in Over the Rhine to make a dramatic transformation and that partnership has been very successful.

It used to be that on Sunday mornings, people would come to Over the Rhine to buy a week’s worth of drugs. Now, on Sunday mornings, people come to Over the Rhine to eat chicken and waffles at Taste of Belgium.

Jean-Fran├žois recently opened Taste of Belgium in Over the Rhine. Five years ago, his business was just him and a waffle iron. Now, he has three locations and 60 employees.

The space that he occupies at 12th and Vine went from being a hot spot with police runs nearly every day to becoming a hot spot for brunch on Sundays.

That transformation was made possible because of the city’s partnership with 3CDC.

Over the Rhine has truly been transformed. With places like A Tavola, Bakersfield, the Lackman, Senate, Abigail Street, Lavamatic, and the 1215 Wine Bar. Before I was mayor, none of those were there.

So far, 3CDC’s work in Over the Rhine has transformed dilapidated buildings into more than 200 condos and apartments and created 87,000 square feet of commercial space. And there is much more to come.

But the partnership does not stop there. The city parks department and 3CDC are working together to renovate Washington Park.

Established in 1855, Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in our city. The bandstand is 101 years old, and there is a canon in the park that was used during the Civil War. In 1888, the city’s centennial celebration was held in Washington Park to highlight the success of the city’s first 100 years.

Today, with new housing to the north and the east, the School of Creative and Performing Arts to the south, and historic Music Hall to the west, the new Washington Park will bring together residents, students and the arts.

With new features, a redesigned landscape, a parking garage, a fountain, and a full calendar of events, Washington Park will bring people together in a way that it has not been able to in years, just like we saw with the transformation of Fountain Square.

Our partnerships go beyond development. They extend to improving the individual lives of Cincinnatians. I have focused on financial literacy and getting people away from check cashers and into banks and credit unions through my Bank On Greater Cincinnati initiative.

Take a look at this. (BANK ON VIDEO)

Sharon is just one of nearly a thousand people who have gone through Bank On Greater Cincinnati last year.

Let me tell you why this is so important. People who do not have bank accounts spend on average $900 dollars a year on check cashing fees. People who have gone through programs similar to Bank On Greater Cincinnati went from spending $900 dollars a year to saving about $1,000 dollars a year.

If that holds true for Cincinnati, 1,000 people who have gone through our program will go from spending $900,000 dollars a year to saving a million dollars a year. That is nearly a 2 million dollar swing. That is a lot of money being put back into our community.

There is another major partnership that is helping to shape our city. It is great to be able to tell you that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are partners with me in moving Cincinnati forward.

When I ran for mayor, I said I was going to use my relationships with the state and the federal government to bring resources back to the city of Cincinnati. And that is exactly what I have done. In my six and a half years in office, I have gone out and brought back $121 million dollars for various projects to help improve our city. That is just from the federal government.

And sometimes I have to leave the Mayor’s office to make my case because frankly sending a letter or an email or filling out a grant application is not enough to bring back $121 million dollars. The competition for money is tough and the bottom line is, we sent that money to Washington, and I want to bring some of it back, and put it to work in our city.

This brings us to the final part of the formula for a successful Cincinnati: promotion.

I said I would go out and promote the city because it is important, not just nationally, but internationally as well.

Business leaders will tell you all the time that this is a global economy. Well, if we want to compete, we need to be a global municipality. We have to be a global city.

That is why I spend so much time promoting Cincinnati around the country and around the world.

And it is paying off. (FILM COMMISSION VIDEO)

Cincinnati is becoming a destination for film and television production. And that is thanks to the hard work of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission. The video you just saw highlighted the movies and television shows recently shot in Cincinnati.

People around the country and around the globe are paying attention to Cincinnati.

In China, they are talking about our emergency preparedness. In Saudi Arabia, people are looking at Cincinnati for potential business investment. In Germany, people are talking about our cutting edge efforts in the area of sustainability. And right now, all over the world, people are talking about the World Choir Games. (WORLD CHOIR GAMES VIDEO)

We have created an international presence and because of that buzz, we were able to attract the World Choir Games. Make no mistake, this is the greatest opportunity to showcase the city that we have ever had and we earned it.

And now, we have got to be ready. So far, there are 367 choirs from 49 countries registered to compete. Safe to say, tens of thousands of visitors are expected to come to Cincinnati this summer.

We need volunteers. We need people to translate, help manage the crowds, and take tickets. We need people show these visitors around our city.

The city manager is actively encouraging our employees to volunteer at the World Choir Games. Here is how it will work: if a city employee volunteers two hours, they will get an hour of time off up to twelve hours. I think it is a great idea.

So tonight, I am calling on area employers to follow our lead and encourage their employees to volunteer for the World Choir Games.

Now you do not have to do exactly what the city is doing. But, like my mom always said, “You have to do something.”

We need all of you to show our city in the very best light.

Think about what you do when you are expecting a houseguest.

There is a lot of excitement. We vacuum our living rooms. We take out the trash. We polish up the silver. And we start cooking.

We are going to show Cincinnati in the best possible light for the World Choir Games.

Pride. Investment. Commitment. Partnership, and Promotion. That is the formula that we have used to transform our great city.

Tonight, I have shared with you points of pride and stories of success that we can celebrate but what I want to stress is that we cannot stop.

We can celebrate downtown development. We can celebrate our streetcar. We can celebrate those companies that have come to Cincinnati to create jobs.

But there are still a lot of people whose circumstances have not changed. We must continue to challenge ourselves to improve the quality of life for all of those living in Cincinnati today and we must continue to challenge ourselves to invest in our city for future generations.

As I think about the future of Cincinnati, I find myself wondering, what will the mayor say 50 years from now in his or her State of the City address that speaks to this period of time? What will that future mayor be able to cite as examples from this time that talk about pride? Will the mayor be able to talk about investments we made to benefit future generations? Will the mayor talk about our commitment to our city? Will he or she say that we were following the formula for a successful Cincinnati?

Let’s help that mayor, 50 years from now, write the State of the City address. Let’s write it right now. Let’s be one of the stories. You pick the project to commit yourself to. Let’s give the mayor a lot of options from this period of time.

Let’s write our history, together, today.
The Mayor's theme is exactly what Cincinnati and more importantly the surrounding suburbs and exurbs need to feel about greater Cincinnati: Pride. There are too many people who transfer their political and social anger into a hatred of the City and far too often into prejudice of the people living here. Everyone needs to reflect on the positive moves we are making and see them through. We don't need division, like the GOP wants, we need unity. Speeches like this don't bring about much unity, because few are paying attention, but I commend the mayor for his efforts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Need a Tax to Support the Arts and Culture in Cincinnati

Sunday's Enquirer had an article detailing the movement to create a county sales tax to help fund arts and cultural organizations in the Cincinnati area. This or something like it needs to be done. We must continue Cincinnati's incredibly high quality level of arts and culture. We far out rank other cities of our size on the richness and depth of arts and culture and we have the potential of being so much more.

It has been long debated what is a better tax for this type of thing: property or sales tax. The problem with a sales tax is that it is dis-proportionally affects the poor. Property taxes don't directly hit the poor as much, but instead hit the wealthy and corporation more fairly. The rich and corporations (via their Republican representatives)don't like paying their fair share so they go nuts when anyone thinks about raising property taxes, and much of the middle class follow suit, no matter the cost to them in the long run.

We can't in this case use an income tax. Since the county has multiple municipalities and no ability to level a uniform tax, it is just not feasible.

The fight is going to end up being the typical anti-city struggle falling on geographic and political lines. County Commissioner and anti-arts Republican Chris Monzel puts that up front in this section from the article:
“The city owns those buildings, and they're trying to pass the cost of repairing them on to Hamilton County taxpayers,” said Commissioner Chris Monzel, referring to Music Hall and Union Terminal. “The city should pay for these buildings, not be building streetcars or atriums.”
Yes, Monzel blames the city for having all of the Cultural institutions, but forgets that two of the institutions included in this plan already have county wide property tax levies (Union Terminal and the Zoo). Monzel is just totally anti-city and anti-Urbanist. He appears to just want all art to die. I don't know how this guy pretends to be representative of the entire county. He only cares about helping Suburbanite Republicans, who I guess he thinks hates arts and culture. He may want to check the voter registration of the Board of nearly all of the major arts organization and he will find Republicans.

The Republicans in Hamilton County must wake up and understand that for a large metro city, like Cincinnati, to grow, it must have a vibrant urban core. You can't live by bread alone and you certainly can't live by Suburb or Exurb alone.  We need our arts and culture to thrive, not die off because of ignorance.

The urban areas have the history and have the culture that the suburbs don't have and do little to cultivate. It is almost a social/cultural belief by many that anything with history and depth is bad. I don't get where this comes from. I could guess rampant consumerism has pushed this along, but there must be something else. I hope it is not religion or politics or bigotry. It just seems like those are the only reasons for this anti-arts and culture attitude. Maybe it will change, but when the same people attack science as much they do the arts, don't expect any change.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Enjoy Opening Day!

Get out and enjoy Opening Day for the Cincinnati Reds. Even if you are not going to the game find a party going on and celebrate a Red's win!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Enquirer Continues Anti-Urban Core Development Articles

I am just going to presume that the Enquirer is making a direct appeal to people in Price Hill, Madisonville, and Avondale to become subscribers by giving them lip service.  Here's the article on Price Hill, which is part two from Sunday's Fairmont Story and part three about Madisonville and Avaondale.  A simple fact brings out the underlying anti-ubran core development when these two sections appear in the articles. First from Part Two:
She and others are upset because they see massive development projects reshaping Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, while boarded windows and substandard rental housing spread in Price Hill. They want more help.
Here's the repeating of the dogma in Part Three:
As city leaders focus millions of dollars into remaking downtown and Over-the-Rhine, Madisonville and Avondale are in a battle to rebuild their aging communities.
Add these passages to this one from Part One and you get a Enquirer created narrative:
She and others are quick to point out that their neighborhoods have continued to decline even as tens of millions of dollars has poured into new housing and infrastructure in Over-the-Rhine, Downtown and the Uptown area.
What better way to create conflict than to fabricate it? The Enquirer is doing it all in the hopes of boosting circulation in these neighborhoods.  So is the Enquirer treating all of the communities it serves equally?  I think not.

This series is not news nor analysis, the Enquirer is pushing an underdog story and painting Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, and to a degree Uptown as the villains of a fable they are trying to construct. This is tabloid journalism in sheep's clothing. They have taken an editorial point of view and gone out and found people to fit their narrative.  This will get the Price Hill/Westwood/Suburban anti-city crowd in a frenzy, a market they want to reach, on an emotional level.

The odd element of part two of the series on Price Hill was how the black/white elements were discussed. The problem of white-flight was mentioned indirectly, but not as part of the narrative.  It can't be denied, but isn't the conflict that the newspaper is trying to exploit.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Neighborhood Problems Are Decades Old, Not Recent

In another "exclusive" the Cincinnati Enquirer attempts to explain the plight of several of the most depressed neighborhoods within the City. They do this by allowing an anti-Urban Core message to be presented. The basic premise of the article asks if the City CURRENTLY is treating neighborhoods "Fairly." Then they trot out anecdotal evidence of decaying areas of many neighborhoods, and talk about areas like North/South Fairmont which have been declining for decades. Just looking at the rate of decline over the last decade is not a valid measurement alone. If the neighborhood was already depressed and was small and just got smaller, that's not a fair assessment.

Places like Price Hill and Fairmont are not economic centers, they are residential neighborhoods.  As the article begrudgingly mentions, these neighborhoods were once home to large numbers of working class people who left when the manufacturing jobs left.  This started to happen well over 40 years ago and ended still decades ago. So trying to claim these neighborhoods are being held back today because the City is focusing on rebuilding the urban core, is a fallacy. Putting money into places that exist to support the job centers of the city will do nothing.  You have to support the Job Centers first and that will build up demand for housing in these neighborhoods.  That demand will bring development dollars.

What does this rely on, strong job centers, which are located in the Urban core (Downtown/Pill  Hill).  So the answer to the question in the article asking if all neighborhoods are treated equally, the answer is no, and has always been no.  Neighborhoods are different and serve different purpouses. It if funny that Queensgate wasn't really mentioned.  It is just as depressed and hurting. Why?  No one lives there, no one complains.

The City of Cincinnati must focus on building up the urban core.  This is the basis of city development.  Trying to prop up neighborhoods that don't have a viability beyond residential, can't be the focus. If these neighborhoods want to grow, they have to grow as the job centers grow.  Support job center growth and they have a chance.

Another thing not covered by the article, but a factor none-the-less is the affect white-flight had on these neighborhoods.  That's clear in the statistics and this isn't the initial wave that took place in the 1960's, this is a clear disparity.  East Price Hill shows this the most, where since 2000, white population dropped nearly 40%, while the Black population increased by more than 50%, and the Hispanic population rose 340%.  That doesn't fit the narrative, so it's ignored, like the neighborhood squeaky wheels claim they are being ignored.  Ironic?