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Cincinnati In The News

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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.

Jobs getting farther from home in U.S. cities

Jobs are moving farther away from where employees live, according to the Brookings Institution, which looked at U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 to 2012 for the country's largest 96 metropolitan areas. The number of jobs within a typical commuting distance dropped by 7 percent for suburban residents during those years and dropped by 3 percent for city residents.

"Closeness to workplaces affects people differently," says an article on the findings in Governing Magazine. "While higher earning workers can afford to drive long distances to work, not everyone can. Being close to jobs affects how long black, female and older workers are unemployed more than other groups. For poor residents, having jobs nearby also increases their chances of working and leaving welfare."

Brooking calculated the typical commuting distance in Greater Cincinnati to be 8.7 miles. The shortest typical work commute among the 96 metro areas was in Stockton-Lodi, Calif., at 4.7 miles, and the longest was in Atlanta at 12.8 miles.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati's street art highlighted in Paste travel story

Writer Karen Gardiner notes that people in-the-know about street art head for Brooklyn, Berlin and Bristol to see work by the best-known artists, but, as she writes in Paste, "there are more and more destinations where you can see work by both artists local to the area and the bigger names." She then lists her 11 favorite "Lesser-Known Cities for Street Art" in a photo gallery — starting off with Cincinnati.

"Much of the street art you will see in Cincinnati are large-scale murals by the local ArtWorks organization," Gardiner writes, although she says several internationally known artists have also "made their mark." She photographed the above work on the outside of the former Mainstay and Societe clubs on Fifth Street to run with her story.

Read the full story here.

Price Hill volunteer Patti Hogan and Soapbox writer Liz McEwan interviewed on WVXU

Price Hill's "super-volunteer" Patti Hogan was profiled in a recent Soapbox story by Liz McEwan, and the reaction from friends, neighbors and residents was extremely positive — many feel that the West Side doesn't get enough attention for its efforts to improve. WVXU's "Cincinnati Edition" agreed, asking Hogan and McEwan to appear on the program April 9 to discuss Price Hill's struggles and successes.

Listen to the WVXU interview here.

Tolls on the rise as highway funding dries up

With shortfalls in federal transportation spending and the Highway Trust Fund, the Brookings Institution's Robert Puentes says that states and localities are exploring more tolls to support new capacity and other ongoing improvements.

"In 2013, for instance, tolls covered about 5,400 miles across all interstate and non-interstate roadways nationally, a 15.1 percent jump since 2003," he writes. "Toll roads have expanded their mileage by nearly 350 miles, or 7 percent, since 2011 alone. By comparison, total system mileage has grown by only 3.6 percent over the past decade."

Which leads us, as always, to stalled discussions over replacing the Brent Spence Bridge — where tolls seem to be an inevitability except to the Kentucky legislators who control the project.

Cincinnati Magazine partnered with UC's Niehoff Urban Studio recently to look at the future of transportation, including an interesting option to build the new highway bridge west of Longworth Hall (see rendering above).

Read the full Brookings article here.

How Cincinnati's Jim Obergefell became the face of the Supreme Court gay marriage case

The Washington Post has an in-depth feature story on Cincinnati's Jim Obergefell, whose name is attached to the consolidated cases the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing soon to decide whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

“If the Supreme Court decides in favor of full marriage equality, it will be the largest conferral of rights on LGBT people in the history of our country," the story quotes Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jim will become a historic figure."

Obergefell married John Arthur in July 2013 in a medical jet at Baltimore-Washington International Airport because Ohio doesn't allow gay marriages while Maryland does. Arthur was dying from ALS and would pass several months later. Obergefell sued the state of Ohio to have his name listed as Arthur's surviving spouse, and the decisions and appeals resulting from that lawsuit have now reached the Supreme Court as Obergefell v. Hodges.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati weather ranked high on "dreariness index"

No, it's not your imagination. Cincinnati really is a pretty dreary place weather-wise.

Meteorologist Brian Brettschneider, author of Brian B's Climate Blog and someone apparently with a lot of time on his hands, has devised a formula to rank U.S. cities on a "dreariness index." Taking into account annual precipitation, number of days with precipitation and cloudiness, Brettschneider has determined that Cincinnati is tied for the fifth worst weather with Cleveland and Lexington, Ky.

In general, the Midwest and Northeast fare badly in the rankings while the sunny, dry Southwest has the best weather. Joining Cincinnati in dreariness are Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Boston, Newark, Columbus, Indianapolis and of course the poster children for rain and clouds, Seattle and Portland.

Read the full story here.
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