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Cincinnati In The News

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Workers need to make $13-$14/hour to afford apartment in Tristate


CityLab discusses a new study by the Pew Research Center on the growing gap between what American hourly workers earn and the rising cost of housing. The study results in a map showing how much a worker needs to earn per hour in each state to rent a two-bedroom apartment, finding that in no state can a person earning minimum wage afford such an apartment at market rent.

You'd have to earn $14.13 per hour in Ohio to afford a two-bedroom apartment, $14.31 in Indiana and $13.14 in Kentucky. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour; Ohio raised its minimum wage to $8.10/hour this year, while Indiana and Kentucky use the federally mandated rate.

CityLab also looks at the cost of moving to one-bedroom apartments, though the hourly pay requirements aren't spelled out state-by-state. Instead, a second map indicates that someone in Ohio working a minimum-wage job would need to work 54 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment; Indiana workers would have to work 62 hours/week and Kentucky workers 57 hours/week.

"Rents keep rising because the demand for rentals keeps growing, and that’s partly because fewer people can afford to buy their homes today than they could before the recession," the article says. "The low supply of rentals has created a situation where people who definitely can’t afford to buy are also priced out of renting."

Read the full story here.
 

WVXU's Cincinnati Edition discusses church buildings coming back to life


WVXU's "Cincinnati Edition" show did a segment June 2 about abandoned local church buildings coming back to life, the subject of a recent Soapbox feature story by Rick Pender. Host Mark Heyne interviewed Pender, Cincinnati Preservation Association Executive Director Paul Muller and Kevin Moreland, head brewer and partner at Taft's Ale House, a focal point of Pender's story.

Listen to the full "Cincinnati Edition" segment here.
 

Hamilton County's slashed government jobs are likely gone for good


Governing Magazine's June issue reviews financial documents for more than 250 of the nation's larger distressed cities and counties to identify those recording among the steepest declines in public employment. Hamilton County ranks 11th, cutting 26.8 percent of its workforce from its 2006 peak of 6,272 positions to its current staff of 4,592.

"Total local government employment nationally remains about a half-million below its 2008 peak. But some governments have suffered a great deal more than others," says the article, "Are Some Government Jobs Gone for Good?" "What led these governments to make severe workforce reductions and how they responded to cutbacks offer unique lessons in an era of doing more with less."

Hamilton County Administrator Christian Sigman is quoted as saying he doesn't expect his workforce to return to pre-recession levels anytime soon but that the county has learned to adapt to the new reality. "Quite frankly, I don't want those days back," he says. "We’re now a leaner and more engaged organization."

Read the full article here.
 

Cincinnati's police reform after 2001 riots is a national model


Cincinnati Police reforms resulting from a U.S. Justice Dept. consent decree after the 2001 riots here are in the news every time another major city undergoes soul-searching following the death of an African American at the hands of police. The latest news story was about Cleveland's own consent decree from the Justice Dept. that will attempt to clean up a broken relationship between that city's police and its citizens.

"Cincinnati’s lessons seem newly relevant as officials call for police reform in the aftermath of the deaths of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Tamir Rice in Cleveland," Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic. "Indeed, the recently released report from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommends that departments adopt some of the strategies used by Cincinnati. A task force convened by Ohio Governor John Kasich cited Cincinnati as a model for community-oriented policing and recommended that other law-enforcement agencies in that state develop similar reforms."

Semuels offers a long, nuanced story about the long path the Cincinnati Police Dept. has traveled from its own broken community relationship to today's role as "a model for community-oriented policing." Things aren't perfect here by any stretch, as the rash of recent shootings have some questioning if the police are still on the right path.

Still, "for a great many other cities, Cincinnati’s imperfect present provides a glimpse of a much better future," Semuels writes.

Read the full story here.
 

Cincinnati rated #7 best park system among major U.S. cities


The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization working to create and improve neighborhood parks, has released its ParkScore index to rate how well the 75 largest U.S. cities are meeting the need for parks. Cincinnati ranks #7.

ParkScore uses mapping technology to identify which neighborhoods and demographics are underserved by parks and how many people are able to reach a park within a 10-minute walk. The maximum ParkScore is 100, and Cincinnati received 75. The two cities tied for #1, Minneapolis and St. Paul, received grades of 84.

The Trust for Public Land based its analysis on what it says are the three important characteristics of an effective park system: acreage, facilities and investment and access. In these rankings, the best park systems have large median park sizes in terms of acreage (Cincinnati is OK there); parks comprising a large percentage of city area (Cincinnati is good); spend a lot on parks on a per-resident basis (Cincinnati gets the max score there); provide what TPL says are the four key facilities parks should have: basketball hoops, dog parks, playgrounds and recreation and senior centers (Cincinnati does well); and have a public park within a 10-minute (1/2 mile) walk of all residents (Cincinnati is OK; the orange/red areas in the map above fall outside the 10-minute-walk threshold).

See the full rankings and city writeups here. Find out more about the Cincinnati Parks system here.
 

Memorial Day weekend event recommendations


Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer, featuring Taste of Cincinnati returning for the 37th year and lots of neighborhood parades, picnics and ceremonies honoring military veterans. Here's a roundup of local media coverage and recommendations:

Read the official 2015 Taste of Cincinnati event guide here.

The Enquirer's preview of Taste of Cincinnati, including Polly Campbell's recommended dishes, is here.

WCPO.com's preview of Taste of Cincinnati is here.

WVXU-FM has an interview with Taste of Cincinnati Communications Director Rich Walburg and others here.

See CityBeat's "to do" staff picks for weekend activities here.

Rasputin Todd's Enquirer recommendations for weekend things to do are here.
 

We're happy this Top 20 list doesn't include Cincinnati


Pest-control experts Orkin release a list each spring of the 20 worst mosquito cities in the U.S. based on the number of service calls the company makes to treat the buggers. There's finally a "top 20 cities" list that (thankfully) leaves off Cincinnati.

"Mosquito bites can transmit West Nile virus and other conditions that cause encephalitis — or swelling of the brain — as well as a relatively new virus in the United States called chikungunya virus," the Orkin report says. "In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded chikungunya virus to a 'nationally notifiable condition' in the United States, providing state and local health departments with standard definitions for reporting and tracking cases."

If it's alright with you, just take that chikungunya somewhere else.

Read the Orkin rankings and helpful mosquito FAQs here.
 

Locally filmed 'Carol' gets rave reviews at Cannes


Todd Haynes' 1950s-era drama Carol, filmed in Cincinnati last year, debuted this past weekend at the Cannes Film Festival in France to outstanding reviews, writes Steve Rosen on today's CityBeat staff blog. He says Cannes critics "called it an instant Oscar contender and the most important high-profile gay drama to come out of American cinema since 2005's Brokeback Mountain."

Carol stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in a story (based on the 1952 novel The Price of Salt) about a socialite who falls in love with a young department-store clerk.

Rosen links to published reviews from Variety ("the most important publication chronicling the entertainment business") and indieWire ("the most influential website for the independent-film industry").

Read the full post here.
 

Cincinnati Symphony's stability, growth in stark contrast to many other U.S. orchestras


The New York Times took notice of last week's announcements from Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra about its successful fundraising campaign and a new musician contract that will allow it to hire 14 more full-time players over the next four years. Classical music writer Michael Cooper says that the CSO's expansion of the ensemble to 90 members is in stark contrast to many other orchestras around the country, from Philadelphia to Atlanta, that are shedding positions to save money.

"The orchestra world is all too familiar with vicious cycles of mounting deficits, dwindling audiences, difficulty raising money and cuts," Cooper writes. "But at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, things are moving happily in the opposite direction: think crescendo, not diminuendo."

Read the full story here.
 

First Batch highlighted as one of the country's hottest design incubators


Dwell magazine has published a guide to “a few of the country's hottest design incubators,” including Cincinnati's manufacturing-focused First Batch, that it says are helping independent designers learn the basics of how to scale up and boost the local economy.
 
“While starting a company seems the scariest, figuring out how to grow and stay sustainable offers the most challenging decisions,” Matt Anthony, program manager of First Batch, says in the article. The Over-the-Rhine-based company is described as “one of the many local organizations across the United States helping designers and manufacturers build the networks, relationships and infrastructure they need to thrive.”

The article also highlights design incubators in Detroit, San Francisco and Oakland.

Read the full article here.
 

Cincinnati one of 10 cities recommended for relocations


The Huffington Post is reporting on new Lincoln Property recommendations for the "Top 10 Cities for Relocation" that considers a city's nightlife, culture, food, weather and rent costs. Cincinnati makes the list, which is arranged in random order and includes Austin, Tex.; Boulder, Colo.; and Philadelphia.

Cincinnati's infographic highlights Oktoberfest, cornhole, the Reds, our signature chili and our location "opposite the mouth of the Licking River."

Read the full article here.
 

New data analytics focus makes Cincinnati "the city of the future"


The City of Cincinnati's new approach to using data analytics to make city government more efficient and effective, championed by City Manager Harry Black, "turns tradition on its head" and "might start a national trend," according to a new article on Backchannel, a tech-focused subsite at Medium.com.

Backchannel praises Black and Chief Performance Office Chad Kenney for the debut of the city's Office of Performance and Data Analytics. Black previously served as Finance Director in Baltimore, where Kenney ran a similar tech-savvy program called CitiStat.

Backchannel contributor Susan Crawford says the genius of Black and Kenney's plan is that they intend to focus on outcomes instead of just outputs, as evidenced by the city's new Open Data portal.

"Outputs are what we can measure. Outcomes are what we really want," Crawford writes. "So what would happen if a city's services were managed, top to bottom, to focus on outcomes rather than outputs? We're about to find out in the great state of Ohio. Cincinnati, the Queen City, whose population is expected to grow to more than 300,000 in 2020 (following years of population flight) is determined to make the crucial shift."

Read the full Backchannel article here.
 

Open data making a splash in Ohio, Cincinnati


Ohio is making a name nationally for its efforts to open government records to public scrutiny.

Government Technology magazine, which provides "solutions for state and local government," published a story yesterday about a new initiative coming to Ohio's budget transparency site OhioCheckbook.com, which already offers 3,900-plus local governments — townships, cities, counties, school districts and more — a chance to place revenues and expenditures online free of charge.

The new concept rolls out in June and will allow citizens to track local government revenues and expenditures via interactive graphs, which the story says will "illustrate not only a bird's eye view of a budget but also the granular details of check-by-check spending. Highlights include top earning government contractors, highest paid officials and revenue consumption by departments."

Last month Ohio was ranked #1 in the country for financial transparency by consumer advocacy group U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), thanks to the launch of OhioCheckbook.com in late 2014. Ohio received a grade of A+ one year after getting a D-, and PIRG Senior Policy Analyst Phineas Baxandall says the new online portal looks like something one would expect from a successful tech company, not a government agency.

Back in Cincinnati, yesterday also marked the launch of the city's high-profile effort at transparency, Open Data Cincinnati.

"Open Data Cincinnati is about more than just stats, numbers and bar charts," City Manager Harry Black said in a press release announcing the online portal's launch. "This is about the City opening itself up to the people we serve on a daily basis."

Black says he wants to establish Cincinnati as a national model for using data analytics to make city government more efficient and effective.

Read the full Government Technology story here.
 

Dreaming again of a downtown grocery store


Cleveland recently opened its first downtown supermarket in modern times courtesy of the regional Heinen's chain. The two most remarkable aspects of the new store are that 1) Heinen's is a suburban grocery operator with 21 other stores in northeastern Ohio and the Chicago area and 2) the company spent $10 million of its own money to renovate the 100-year-old Cleveland Trust Rotunda building.

Supporters of Cleveland's urban renaissance are still pinching themselves over the transformation.

"We have become so accustomed to stepping into unattractive and cheaply built big box stores that the idea of shopping as anything other than drudgery has all but vanished," Erin O'Brien writes in Freshwater, Soapbox's sister publication in Cleveland. "They want our money; we need their stuff. Transaction complete.

"Not so at the new Heinen's. This family is glad you're here. These people respect you before you've spent a single dime. They know you are worthy of this beautiful space and so is their grocery business. After all, they spent $10 million to deliver it unto Cleveland in all of its stunning glory."

Next City ran a national story last week about the gamble the family-owned Heinen's organization took to open a downtown store and, given the family's deep roots in Cleveland, why the company's leaders thought the risk was justified.

"The conventional wisdom is that a grocery store needs 20, 25,000 people to be feasible," co-owner Jeff Heinen says to Next City. "There are about 13,000 people in this core area of Cleveland right now. Because there are not enough residents living in that area (to meet that standard minimum), we needed to design a store that appeals to a variety of needs. ...

"We might actually get to 20,000 people, but that's a bet. And not one you can say, 'Oh, this should only take 12 more months. We're talking about four or five more years.' ... From our perspective, hoping to continue the momentum of both people and businesses wanting to be downtown is important to us as a Cleveland company who needs Cleveland to be a viable city going forward."

A hometown grocery chain known for suburban stores opening a signature downtown supermarket in a major Ohio city, investing its own money to help support and boost the urban core's redevelopment with an eye toward long-term success for the city? What a concept!

Cincinnati can continue to dream, of course.

Read the Freshwater Cleveland story here and the Next City story here.
 

Rare Declaration of Independence copy to be displayed at Museum Center for first time


A rare print of the Declaration of Independence has been in the Cincinnati History Museum's collection for 140 years but will be being displayed in public for the first time at the Cincinnati Museum Center, The New York Times explains in its Arts section.

Known as the Holt Broadside, the document is a version of the Declaration of Independence printed by John Holt in White Plains, N.Y. on July 9, 1776 after New York's provincial congress voted to authorize the declaration. Only three other copies are known to exist.

"The Cincinnati copy originally belonged to Richard Fosdick, a native of New London, Conn., who moved in 1810 to Cincinnati, where he founded the city's first pork-packing business," Times writer William Grimes says. "It is not known how he came by the document or how it made its way to the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, a predecessor of the Cincinnati History Museum. It languished, cataloged but ignored, until 2010."

The Cincinnati Museum Center issued a press release today about the Holt Broadside, announcing it would be displayed for the first time as part of its exhibition Treasures of Our Military Past, opening May 15. The communication sheds light on where the Holt Broadside has been all this time, perhaps taking exception to the Times' characterization of it "languishing" and being "ignored."

"How the Holt broadside ended up in the Cincinnati History Library and Archives at Cincinnati Museum Center is fairly well documented," the Museum Center says. "On the back of the document is the signature of Richard Fosdick, a native of New London, Connecticut, who brought the document, along with his family, across the mountains and down the Ohio River to settle in Cincinnati in 1810. ... Following his death in 1837, his estate, including the broadside, was divided among his living children. One of his children or grandchildren likely donated the Holt broadside to the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, the predecessor of the Cincinnati History Library and Archives. ... A handwritten '18801' in red ink indicates that the document has been in the Society's holdings since the 1870s."

Check out the document for yourself starting on May 15.

Read the full New York Times story here.
 
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