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Cincinnati In The News

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How a fiddler and an astrophysicist introduced predictive analytics to Cincinnati

Backchannel, a tech-focused subsite at Medium.com, is back at it, heaping praise on the city of Cincinnati's efforts to lead the charge toward the future of local government by integrating data into its daily operations. The praise is centered on Ed Cunningham, head of the city's building code enforcement operations who also happens to be front man and fiddle player for Comet Bluegrass All-Stars.

Back in April, Backchannel writer Susan Crawford used glowing terms to describe how City Manager Harry Black and Chief Performance Officer Chad Kenney built the city's Office of Performance and Data Analytics. With this new story she revisits Cincinnati's newfound fascination with data, focusing on Cunningham's experiments with Predictive Blight Prevention.

"Even if you aren’t immediately eager to read another column about Cincinnati, keep going," Crawford writes. "Like other good stories, this one has drama, memorable characters, sudden bursts of insight, and a cliffhanger ending that hints at future episodes. It also has a soundtrack."

Read the full Backchannel article here.

New York Times tracks split over Boehner's resignation to Cincinnati area

In the wake of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner's resignation last week, The New York Times interviews a variety of Southwest Ohio residents in his district and finds a mix of opinion. The headline says it all: "Reactions on Boehner's Home Turf Reflect Divisions in G.O.P."

Reporter Julie Bosman visited Andy's Cafe, the Carthage spot once owned by Boehner's father, and various West Chester locations to solicit opinions.

Read the full New York Times story here.

Wired likes local project's use of video games to fight urban decay

Wired magazine took notice of local designer Giacomo Ciminello's use of video game play to help re-invigorate blighted spaces through his People’s Liberty grant project, Spaced Invaders. Soapbox was on hand Aug. 27 for the project's first public display in Walnut Hills.

"I like the idea of just 'spaced invaders' because that is literally what we are doing," Ciminello tells Wired. "We aren't destroying property, we aren't making permanent marks. We are having fun, and opening up people's eyes to possibility. Why is this parking lot here? Empty? … What does this neighborhood or community need and can it be in this space? That's the kind of dialogue we are hoping for."

Read the full Wired story here.

How Hamilton produced "drill rap" star Slim Jesus

Apparently Hamilton is home to an up-and-coming rap star who goes by the name Slim Jesus. The Atlantic's CityLab attempts to find out why a white rapper from small-town Ohio has a video with more than 1.5 million YouTube views (image from the video is above) and close to 16,500 "thumbs-up" as well as more than 7,000 "thumbs-down."

"His song 'Drill Time' has launched him into overnight celebrity status, in no small part to his gunshow spectacle, but also because of the power of social media," Brentin Mock writes. "There are plenty of blogs, listicles, and Reddit threads attempting to explain who Slim Jesus is. However, his hometown of Hamilton — the city where (President George W.) Bush dropped bombs on education and Iraq in the same speech (in 2002) — perhaps most deserves examination to understand how Slim Jesus came to be."

Among "the conditions that created Slim Jesus," Mock focuses on Ohio's vanishing manufacturing sector, which hit Hamilton especially hard, and the state's steady pro-firearms legislative march.

"While gun violence is often associated with black teens, it's not surprising to find such a huge arsenal of guns in the hands of the white, teenaged rapper," he writes. "He's a reflection of his city — which is 84 percent white and 22.9 percent poor — and a reflection of the values of the predominantly white National Rifle Association. Along with Slim Jesus, Ohio also produced Machine Gun Kelly, from Cleveland, a Rust Belt city that has recovered a bit better than Hamilton but is still in an economic rut."

Read the full CityLab story here.

Oyler School's role in transforming Lower Price Hill praised by national education leader

"Imagine an old, abandoned end unit row house that is tall, slender in build, and neglected in infrastructure," writes Martin J. Blank, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, in The Huffington Post's education blog. "For many years it's been a crack house, filled with needles — a revolving door of drugs and criminal activity. The back of this house overlooks a local schoolyard, where neighborhood children and youth come to learn and play. The house stands in contrast to a beautiful rebuilt school and is a reminder of the challenges students, educators, families, and the community face daily."

Blank then describes how the house offered an opportunity to be part of the amazing transformation of Lower Price Hill in Cincinnati thanks to the reconstruction of Oyler Community Learning Center.

Titled "What Happens When a Crack House Becomes an Early Childhood Learning Center?" the blog post describes how Oyler leaders helped renovate the house to become a neighborhood pre-school center.

The Robert & Adele Schiff Early Learning Center opened late last year, expanding a program that Oyler began by housing it inside the school.

Public radio education reporter Amy Scott premiered her documentary film about the same Lower Price Hill experiment, Oyler, in May at the school. It's screening Thursday night at the 2015 Cincinnati Film Festival.

Read the full Huffington Post column here.

U.S. News ranks Ohio State as top area college, followed by IU and Miami

U.S. News & World Report is out with its latest college rankings, which the magazine suggests "provide an excellent starting point ... for families concerned with finding the best academic value for their money."

After the listings intro states, "The host of intangibles that makes up the college experience can't be measured by a series of data points," USN&WR does just that. And how do the data points add up for area schools?

In the "National Universities" category, Ohio State is the first area school at #52. Other area institutions include Indiana University at 75, Miami University 82, University of Dayton 108, University of Kentucky 129, Ohio University 135 and University of Cincinnati 140.

In the "Regional Universities" category, the Midwest features Xavier at #6 and Mount St. Joseph at 68. The South includes Thomas More at 53 and NKU 80.

In the "National Liberal Arts Colleges" category, the region's highest ranked school is Oberlin at 23, followed by Kenyon 25, Centre 45, Denison 55, Earlham 61 and Berea 67.

Forbes magazine released its own college rankings last month, with Miami, Indiana and Ohio State as the highest rated area schools as well, but in that order.

See the full U.S. News & World Report rankings here.

New York Times celebrates "Cincinnati Starchitecture" on UC campus

This week's New York Times Magazine presents "The Education Issue," a collection of thought-provoking stories with headlines like "A Prescription for More Black Doctors," "Why We Should Fear University, Inc." and "What Is the Point of College?" The online headline that caught our attention, though, was for a slideshow called "Cincinnati Starchitecture."

The University of Cincinnati campus is featured in 14 very nice photos as a playground for renowned architects, from the recently unveiled renovation of Nippert Stadium to various academic, recreation and dorm buildings. It's an amazing tribute to the school on a very high-profile web site.

See the New York Times slideshow here.

UPDATE: The Times has added an accompanying feature story to the slideshow, "If You Build It, They Will Come ... Won't They?" The story describes how UC is trying to raise its profile through a risky (but increasingly common) investment: expensive architecture.

"The university now has $1.1 billion in debt — close to 20 percent more than it had in 2004 — largely because of its construction boom," the story says. "During the same time, enrollment has increased by nearly 30 percent. The spending is predicated on the idea that new buildings can help turn provincial universities into outre, worldly 'academical villages.' It's a financial gamble — one that many public institutions find themselves driven to make."

NKY's Judge David Bunning "has guts," Washington Post reports

The Washington Post is among the national media covering the drama in a federal courthouse in Ashland, Ky., where Judge David Bunning jailed Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis for her refusal to issue marriage licenses in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Bunning is a Ft. Thomas resident, graduate of Newport Central Catholic High School and son of former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning. This case has thrust him into the national media glare.

"After hearing both sides inside a federal courtroom in Ashland, Ky., the 49-year-old judge made his decision: The devout Catholic and son of former U.S. senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning became the first U.S. judge to issue a jail sentence to enforce the Supreme Court's ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country," The Post explains in a profile story published this morning.

"Bunning's decision Thursday came at a pivotal juncture in the gay marriage debate that has divided the country along starkly partisan lines. But notably, it has been the decisions of a Republican judge appointed by a Republican president, George W. Bush, in a conservative state that have halted the latest effort to use religious freedom objections to the ruling."

Read the full Washington Post story here.

Cincinnati the cheapest of 24 major U.S. cities surveyed for living costs

Yahoo Finance has gathered statistics from the Economic Policy Institute's 2015 Family Budget Calculator to demonstrate, once and for all, that living in San Francisco and New York City is really expensive. The accompanying story suggests that Cincinnati might be a cheaper — and vastly superior (our interpretation) — alternative.

"Even if you're living on your own, expenses can add up," Yahoo Finance explains. "Especially in a big city."

The Economic Policy Institute gathered data in 618 metro areas throughout the the U.S. for several different family types, and Yahoo's story focused on the cost of living for a single person (one adult, zero children) in 24 major U.S. cities. Their numbers measure the annual cost of necessities for one adult to live a "modest lifestyle" by estimating the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes; the numbers don't include savings or discretionary spending.

It costs over $43,500 per year for a single person to live in San Francisco and NYC, the two most expensive cities of the 24 surveyed. Cincinnati comes in as the cheapest, costing a single person $25,403 per year. Cleveland, San Antonio and Pittsburgh were just behind Cincinnati on the list.

Read the full Yahoo Finance story here.

Ohio fumes over renaming of Mount McKinley

Ohio politicians are upset that President Obama used an executive order on Sunday to restore the name of Mount McKinley in Alaska to its original native name, Denali. They say the move disses Ohio's William McKinley, the 25th President who was elected in 1896, re-elected in 1900 and assassinated in 1901.

"I'm deeply disappointed in this decision," The New York Times quotes Speaker John A. Boehner.

"We have no problem whatsoever with Alaskans," says Kimberly Kenney, curator of McKinley’s museum and library in Canton. "We are happy for them. It's their mountain. It's just a little bit sad."

Times reporter Jennifer Steinhauert strangely interjects a parenthetical section midway through her story to dismiss Ohio rumblings, Alaska celebrations and basically all concerns in "flyover" country by reminding readers that Pope Francis would soon be visiting the East Coast:

"There are also a lot of Americans, all due respect both to the 49th state and to the birthplace of Cincinnati chili, who find this and the debate over whether Denali means the 'great one' or 'high one' subjects of minimal importance and are far more concerned about the pope's coming visit to the United States."

Read the full New York Times story here.

Cincinnati Public Library improves to fifth busiest in U.S.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County checked out more than 18 million items in 2014, making it the fifth busiest public library system in the U.S., according to a new Public Library Data Service statistical report. In last year’s report (2013 usage data), the Library was the sixth busiest library in the U.S.

The 2015 report is based on survey responses collected from more than 1,800 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada for fiscal year 2014. It's published each year by the Public Library Association, the largest division of the American Library Association.

Read the full Cincinnati Business Courier story here.

"Choice amenities" like Washington Park are changing urban landscape across U.S.

Michael Gaughan, a director with the National Development Council, writes a column on the Governing Magazine web site today discussing how new ideas and players are coalescing to provide attractive options for the livability of cities, saying that's good news for economic development. He includes Washington Park on a short list of examples of urban projects centering on new forms of recreation and mobility that often have a blurry distinction.

"More recently, a new movement has taken hold that is creating an equally powerful set of amenities for today's city-dwellers," Gaughan writes. "A hallmark of this transformation has been an interdisciplinary approach in which transportation departments and public/private developers are as important to recreation as parks departments have long been. For economic-development professionals, this evolution requires further expansion in the definition of what constitutes an urban amenity as well as who should be recruited for growth partnerships."

Read the full Governing Magazine column here.

NYT Magazine chronicles Cincinnati Reds' long connection to Cuba

The New York Times Magazine has a photo story about the Cincinnati Reds' long connection to Cuban baseball, starting with a 1908 tour of Cuba and the debut of Cuban players on the Reds in 1911. The slide show includes information about Tony Perez, whose statue at Great American Ball Park will be unveiled this weekend, and ends with the team's three current Cubans: Raisel Iglesias, Aroldis Chapman and Brayan Pena.

"The Reds were one of the first National League teams to play in Cuba," the photo story says. "During a 1908 exhibition tour of the island, the Reds were sometimes outmatched by the local talent, and the rest of the baseball world took notice. Over the last century of baseball, the team has had consistent luck developing some of the major league's biggest Cuban stars."

See the New York Times slide show here.

Social media roundup of FC Cincinnati announcement

FC Cincinnati was introduced Wednesday as an expansion team in the United Soccer League (USL), the equivalent of AA minor league baseball in the hierarchy of U.S. soccer. The team will play at UC's newly renovated Nippert Stadium starting next year, and former U.S. Men’s National Team standout John Harkes will be its first head coach.

The USL has a roundup of social media reaction to and coverage of the FC Cincinnati announcement.

See the full report on the United Soccer League website.

47 local companies ranked on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private firms

The Business Courier reports on 47 Greater Cincinnati companies being ranked in this year's Inc. 5000 list of the nation's fastest growing privately held firms. Two local companies — United Installs in Erlanger and ePremium Insurance in Mason — make the more selective Inc. 500 list. In fact, ePremium Insurance ranks for the second year in a row.

The largest local private company on the list is RoundTower Technologies of Blue Ash with revenue of $131.5 million. It ranks #1,668 with "only" 244 percent growth over the past three years.

Read the Cincinnati Business Courier article here.
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