Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Restricting Our Way to Prosperity

Remember the 2010 election? Remember the message? JOBS, ECONOMY, 300,000 LOST JOBS, NO NEW JOBS, AN ENTREPRENEURIAL ENVIRONMENT, HOPE
What did we get?
Outlawed passenger rail, mass transit cuts, eviscerated schools in favor of a failed charter school system, gave away liquor sales money to an unaccountable venture capital scheme, trampled womens' rights virtually outlawing abortion, privatized prisons using unproven theories, expanded gambling against the voters' wishes, attempts to compensate teachers, police and firemen as poorly as possible, more state laws restricting municipal authority, bait and switch legislation and taxation.
What's next?
Boy Howdy. Instead of freeing up alcohol sales, legislators have decided to continue to restrict beer content in Ohio while neighboring sates, Indiana, Michigan & Kentucky impose no such restrictions. Talk about making the state competitive.
You ever think you've been lied to?

Dayton Daily Noose story here.
Public Restrooms

The closing of the Washington Park restrooms while a parking garage is being built underneath (fairly eliminating the park temporarily) has sparked a rather goofy protest & looks at the issue as an affront to a particular group of people, the homeless.
Community leaders & homeless advocates say the developers claimed they would make public "Portapotties" available which seems reasonable since some have already been brought in for the construction crews. The Fishwrap article has a big no comment from the developers, 3CDC, however. Apparently a restroom is planned for the new park. Still, since the park is closed, why have restrooms?
Meanwhile, there are a number of relief agencies in the area who should likely find it in the framework of their mission to provide restroom facilities for this demographic.
Over at the Asylum, the Dean kinda gets it. Where you have a large pedestrian population, regardless of financial status, you need more frequent restroom facilities. If you're driving or biking you can usually get to a large business or gas station that offers public facilities (actually they are for customers). Malls, with their large pedestrian populations always offer restrooms. An area like downtown Cincinnati, unlike a mall, does not have one manager / owner so organizing adequate public facilities is kinda difficult. The area from the Ohio River to McMicken Avenue and from Dalton to Gilbert is a wee bit larger than the average mall, too. The Dean brings up a technological solution, and there are others, but it's going to be more of an organizational & political challenge than that. Also, as we clamor for pedestrian friendly neighborhoods the need will arise there, too. Clifton has Burnett Woods & a public library, but neighborhoods like Oakley & Northside pretty much just have public libraries. These smaller communities don't have the public buildings or large stores that offer facilities like the CBD, either.
There is a real issue here but tying it to a construction zone & the homeless is really distracting & politically shortsighted.

Fishwrap story here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cincinnati names new police chief. Howls of racism in the comments in half an hour.
Go Cincinnati!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Why does LULAC not link to my blog?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ohio Cities & Police Numbers

As Ohio cities grapple with diminishing tax revenue, cutting into their safety budgets has become inevitable. Urbana has cut 14% of their officers giving the city 1.6 officers/1,000 residents. Cincinnati is around twice that with about 3.3/1,000.
One of the budget saving options law enforcement is taking is going high tech.
"High-tech equipment like red-light traffic cameras and computerized dispatching systems help enforce the law with fewer officers and reduce redundancy in paperwork functions."

Cincinnatians, after a fear campaign by COA T & NAACP, banned red light cameras. Now we get to pay more for less service.
As the state gobbles up more and more of our tax dollars & offers less and less in return Ohio cities are going to be hurting. As the state hamstrings the cities through budget cuts and ham fisted legislation, there looks to be a very bleak future.

Noose Son story here
The Cemetery & Community Involvement

In a piece at The Daily Undertaker, Mr McNally points out, "A Cemetery remains relevant only when it is involved in the life of the community it serves." and goes on to illustrate his point with the story of a jazz service at a Delaware cemetery. Such events at funerals aren't too uncommon but in this case the deceased expired some 50 year ago.
Locally, Spring Grove Cemetery has a number of activities and the local Kiwanis have resurrected Memorial Day services at Wesleyan Cemetery but those are cemetery wide events. Dunno what their policies are for grave specific events like this jazz memorial.
Delaware Online article (and video) here.

I was just going to post this on PhaseBuch but they said my message was "spammy and abusive".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whither the Old SCPA ?

Originally posted in January.
Cincinnati's old SCPA building is probably one of the most beautiful warehouses in the world. Valued at over $10 million, it is probably one of the most expensive per square foot, too. It's proximity to the future casino has any number of possible developers as well as community leaders thinking.
Unfortunately, state law forbids the school board from selling the property, instead demanding it be offered to the someone involved in the failed Ohio charter school program. Would we want these guys getting their mitts on this place? While almost unfathomable, I think that would be worse than CPS owning it. Otherwise getting real estate, especially prime real estate out of the hands of Cincinnati Public Schools hands can almost always be a good thing.
Will our new TEA inspired Republican Ohio let CPS sell the property to a private developer? It would seem to fit into their smaller, less intrusive, business-friendly rhetoric. Or will their blind hatred of public schools & the dreaded, evil teachers lead them to "just say no" to any request by a school district?

WCPO 6/22/11 story here

WLWT 1/13/11 article here.

For images of the building & it's interior, click, here.
Cut Taxes ?

Republicans run around saying, "cut taxes" like they have tourette's syndrome. Facing a budget deficit of about $33M, Republicans on the Cincinnati city council want to cut taxes and ~koff koff~ cut spending. They are not really bringing anything to the table for cutting, tho. Hell, even COA T is questioning their logic.
Lippert, as usual, has nothing. Murray wants to merge city and county services. Nice but that could take years. Ghiz wants to eliminate the Department of Environmental Quality which, I thought, had never been funded anyway. She wants to cut convention subsidies, close rec centers & cut the pay of non-union workers. This Republican love affair with unions in Cincinnati is so strange. Bortz wants to privatize, cut health clinics, cut departments, charge waste fees & generally get about 1/6th of the way to a balanced budget.
The Fishwrap reports on the issue here and has a handy but ham fisted "what would you cut" doohickey for your amusement.
I came up with a $7M surplus with no earnings tax increase which I actually might support if it was sunsetted in a year or two to get us past this current economic period. I opted for a $20 trash fee but I think it should be lower. Perhaps no trash fee but every other week trash pick up and fees for yard waste. Appliance & furniture pick up should probably be eliminated or charged for. If the state & county offer health clinics, I see no reason for Cincinnati to continue with them. I'd need more details on that one but I opted to close them. I'd bag DARE, school resource officers & school nurses. The schools have their own budget, let them deal with it. Save human resources but scrutinize recipients. I saved pools, neighborhood support & even opened rec centers. I put a freeze on union raises (sorry conservatives®). I didn't screw local workers home communities. I saved council pay but I think that should be reduced. If you pay any attention to the complaint authority, it's pretty obvious we don't need it. They find (rightfully) for the cops 99% of the time. I kept 144 firemen. The aging building stock in the city demands that. I fired 127 cops which is kinda crazy but I couldn't fire fewer. I paved the streets but as noted in a previous post that needs to be made more efficient.
One of the Windbag's suggestions was to privatize the management of off duty police details. The police department estimated that cost $900,000 a year. Another option was to take it out of off duty pay received by the officers to the tune of almost $5/hr. At $900,000 a year this would mean about 10 people in the police department are working full time just to manage this service. That's crazy. Like the road maintenance, I don't know as the number of people is the problem so much as gross inefficiency and abysmal management. With modern technology, how many people do we need, tho?
Anyhoo, go for it. See if you can balance the budget.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Don't Know Much About History

When I was a kid I liked old stuff. Loved tales of old and mythology. But I hated history classes. In high school I used summer school to get them out of the way. Thing is, here and there, a teacher might deviate from the book, show a movie or bring in a guest lecturer & I would find myself enthralled. After years of believing I hated history I realized what I hated was how it was taught. From what I have seen, nothing is improving & Pat Buchanan's latest post, The Dumbing Down of America, points out it may be worse than I thought. As the concerted effort to improve kid's math and science has had limited results, history has taken a back seat.
Nowadays I can't get enough history. It's incredibly important to know how we got here if we want to set a proper course for the future. It's important to understand our American role in a holistic world history. Revisionist special interest oriented history needs to be avoided. Unfortunately the latter begets the former and it seems to be the way the education industry is headed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Horror Sells

Rob Zombie Woolite Ad

Used to be "sex sells" was the bottom line in advertising. Nowadays it seems to be horror. Above is an ad for Woolite made by horror rock horror movie impresario Rob Zombie. Recently Sears did up their website for zombies. And now Dirt Devil gives us this bit of horror.

Laundry detergent? Department stores? Vacuum cleaners? All pretty standard home & family type stuff. The spate of vampire TV shows is one thing but the creep into advertising mainstream stuff is kinda odd. This probably says something about the mood of our society. Hopelessness? Fatalistic? Out of control? Beats me. It might just be a warped sense of humor.
Whatever. I like it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Take Your Bike Lane With You

Emily Brooke, a student at the University of Brighton has created BLAZE, a bike mounted laser that projects a bike lane/sharrow image onto the road to alert zombies motorists of the bicycle's presence. It helps with blind spots. It won't do anything for willful blind spots, of course.
I think what it really needs is some way to mark the passing distance to the left of the cyclist and where a car traveling, at some set speed, should begin to move over to accommodate the cyclist. Brooke notes correctly that most bike/car collisions occur when the motorist pulls out in front of the cyclist and her device addresses that quite nicely.
Brooke intends to develop the invention in Massachusetts at Babson College.
Any Way the Wind Blows

Ohio governor Kasich has reached a deal with casinos who already had a deal with the voters of Ohio that increases/decreases tax revenue but more importantly expands gambling in the state without voter approval.
When trying to plug a hole in the state budget, Democratic governor Strickland proposed slots at race tracks. He was set to have the state legislature vote on it & believed it would pass. As I posted before, this measure was opposed by a coalition of Republicans and church groups who demanded Ohio voters make the decision. This effort was led by Cincinnati Republican Tom Brinkman, COA T founder, ally of the CCV and no stranger to campaign ethics violation charges. Let Ohio Vote was was no exception.
The result was no slots at tracks and the cancellation of a tax cut extension for Ohioans that was capitalized on in the next gubernatorial campaign by Kasich, who characterized it as a tax hike.
One of the anti-slots campaign leaders is actually a Kasich appointee today. Do these guys talk? Will these conservative® Republicans cry foul and demand a public vote again or will this be a case of, it's ok if a Republican does it?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Job Security ?

Looking for job security> Get onboard the road crew redoing Hamilton Avenue. In almost 4 years they have yet to complete resurfacing 1.2 miles between Groesbeck and Ashtree. The right turn lane from eastbound Ashtree onto southbound Hamilton has been closed & under construction for over a month. At this blistering pace, the entire city of Cincinnati could be repaved / paved by the year 5000. You want to talk about boondoggles…..
hell, maybe Tom Luken just likes watching men working with big machines.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rapid City Flood of 1972

On the night of June 9, 1972 the Canyon Lake Dam failed & the Rapid Creek flooded sending a wave of water & debris down foam the Black Hills into Rapid City, South Dakota killing 238 people and destroying over a thousand homes.
Heavy rains in the mountains, approx 15" in 6 hours, produced the destructive wave crashing through town late at night. The river levels were back to normal early the next day.
A devastated area of Rapid City has a new life now as Memorial Park.

Rapid City Library


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Apple's New Digs

Dunno why they didn't just go ahead & make it look like a Quicktime logo

This article discusses & has a video of Steve Jobs hawking his new Apple HQ to the Cupertino city council.
While there's some amazing stuff in the presentation, the most amazing thing is that he never asks the city for money. That would never happen around SW Ohio.
Wednesday Fun in Central Cincinnati

On Wednesdays, the Clifton Cultural Arts Center presents Wednesdays on the Green – two months of free outdoor evening performances, every Wednesday in June and July at 7 p.m. Pack a picnic from the Northside Farmer’s Market (4 - 7:30) or get some grub from the Habanero Burrito Truck, CafĂ© de Wheels and Dojo Gelato & enjoy:
June 8 - The Faux Frenchmen
June 15 - Tracy Walker and Friends
June 22 - Firelytes Steel Drum Band
June 29 - The Honeycombs
July 6 - Acapulco Salsa
July 13 - Art Gore and the Jazz Knights
July 20 - Jake Speed and the Freddies
July 27 - Rebecca Pronsky
There are free hands-on art activities for kids. CCAC is located at 3711 Clifton Ave. – shows will be on the front lawn, unless it rains - then the third floor auditorium. Northside Farmers Market is at Hoffner Park on Hamilton @ Blue Rock.
The 17 will connect Northside & Clifton on a pretty regular frequency.
Stuck In A 2D World

It appears that Springfield's monopoly cinema ownership plan isn't paying the dividends they expected. None of the Chakeres cinemas have gone digital yet, hence - no 3D for the Champion City.
I was raised, like my mom, going to Chakeres theaters in Springfield. I went to school with the kids who, I guess, now run the show. I felt weird going to their competitors theaters. Nowadays I have no more desire to watch a movie in a dark room full of strangers than to read a book projected on a screen in a dark room full of strangers.
I have always found 3D movies to be cheesy & gimmicky with directors "creating" scenes for the effect that have nothing to do with good 2D layout. While the technology may have improved of late, I'm not so sure my aging hardware is compatible anyway.
Still, I worked in an industry dominated by film and, after years of hearing the industry would soon be filmless, it finally was. The Sleeping Giant needs to get a move on.
Anyway, I'm surprised the author of this Noose Son article didn't find any film enthusiasts who, like vinyl enthusiasts like their music on old LPs, prefer their movies on film, scratches & all.
Yes, there was a time when scratches weren't a post production effect.
Well, ok, it was a post production thing, but…..

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Dynamics of Community

In a previous post, I mentioned a book about the origins of an upscale neighborhood in Springfield started almost 100 years ago. I got sidelined with colonial history tho, but now I'm back in early 20th century Ohio (will be back in 18th century England this afternoon).
What's blowing me away is the community's community and level of self serving altruism (?) of the developers. One resident had a barometer and, lacking up to date Doppler weather radar among other things, would hoist a flag to let neighbors know the weather forecast. New residents were given fliers explaining the flag code. The developers had purchased a large area of land and were developing in sections. In the unstarted sections they provided tennis courts that could be flooded and frozen over in the winter for ice skating. They helped out with polo fields, quoits courts, baseball diamonds & horseback riding areas. The neighborhood opted out of city garbage pickup & using mandatory 5 year homeowners association fees, funded their own trash pickup. The fees also covered sidewalk snow removal using a horse-drawn plough. I don't know if a neighborhood can opt out of trash pickup nowadays. With all the red tape, it might cost the city more to avoid a particular area. Last residential developer I heard about was the Erpenbecks & their crazy soap opera of lies, cheating & dealing. These homeowner association rules & fees are frequently challenged nowadays and are defeated in courts by cranky neighbors.
The neighborhood was tied to an adjacent country club and there was pretty much just one business district in Springfield at the time. It was likely the neighbors all recreated at the same place, worked in the same business district & ate at the same restaurants, went to the same theaters, etc. Nobody had TV's or internet & radio was just aborning.
I would guess that less than half the residents in "the Country Club District" are members of the Springfield Country Club today. Today, in Cincinnati, one could probably track a block of residents to workplaces scattered all over town & across state lines. That's mainly attributable to the automobile but everybody has cable or satellite TV, internet, game stations & whatnot as well. The latter techs fairly kill any of the hope Jane Jacobs might have expressed in The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
There are still communities but they tend to be more like skeletal overlapping networks. Even the more old style neighborly communities seem kind of inbred, incestuous & creepy to me. It frequently seems like the leaders are more social activists than just caring neighbors.
I dunno. Maybe it's just me. Then, again, if we had had 21st century communications & jet airliners in the 18th century would America still be part of Great Britain in a larger more skeletal networked empire ?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I Don't Ask Anymore