The following letter was submitted to the Cincinnati Forum by Mr. Bill Messer who serves as the an executive committee member for the City of Cincinnati’s Environmental Advisory Council.
April 6, 2014
Dear Members of Cincinnati City Council and the City Manager,
Well it’s budget time of year again and once again the idea of eliminating or cutting the Office of Environment and Sustainability is being floated by some members of Council who are smart enough to know better but may think it a personally advantageous position politically and assume the public will buy the economic argument. However, as happened with the attempt to derail the street car, you’d best believe (in Cincinnati) that once the public is made sufficiently aware of the degree to which such an action by Council significantly costs/wastes rather than saves money, that basis for opposition to OES will deteriorate rapidly and the action become unsupportable. Let’s consider the issue more responsibly. Read more ›
What is the status of political reform in Ohio? After a year without any tangible success, two efforts go forward that have the potential for improving the health of the democratic process in this state.
Advocates who backed the unsuccessful 2012 Constitutional Amendment initiative to reform Ohio’s highly partisan redistricting procedures are now pinning their hopes on the work of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission. Established by the General Assembly in 2012, the Commission appears to be poised to adopt and then send on to the House and Senate a proposal that would greatly improve the way legislative district lines are redrawn every ten years. Copying a bill adopted by the Ohio Senate several years ago, the Commission would mandate that any new redistricting maps must receive the support of at least one member of the Apportionment Board representing the minority party. Furthermore, the new Board could not include any current members of the House or Senate. Read more ›
Photo of Ohio Walmart from 2013 asking employees to donate food for other workers who are struggling so much they can’t afford to buy a Thanksgiving meal for their families. (Photo from OUR Walmart)
I received an invitation last week to attend an event called “Town Hall Meeting: Addressing Inequality. Join us to discuss the impact of rising inequality in our communities and call on business and elected leaders to partner with us to find solutions.” I showed up a little late and was faced with a full parking lot at the Tryed Stone New Beginning Church in Bond Hill. I walked into a packed house of over 250 people that included elected officials, candidates, members and staff of various labor organizations, immigration reform supporters, and faith community leaders.
Conveners of the Town Hall included UFCW Local 75 (United Food and Commercial Workers) who represent over 30,000 members in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana who work in supermarkets, drug stores, food processing and packing plants, and health care facilities. Communities United for Citizenship/Comunidades Unidas para la Ciudadanía, who according to their facebook page are “community, faith, and labor groups in Greater Cincinnati area working cooperatively on issues of immigration and citizenship.” Their membership list includes an impressive number of local and regional groups that include: The AMOS Project, Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, Faith Community Alliance, Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, to name a few. Ohio Prophetic Voices was also a host, a faith organizing initiative formed in 2012 for Christians to work for racial and economic justice “in the public square”. Read more ›
Timothy Douglas lives in Brooklyn, but recently spent time in Cincinnati directing a show at Playhouse in the Park. At a community forum sponsored by HOME to discuss issues of neighborhood segregation, Douglas said, in his experience, it is impossible to stop the process of gentrification in a neighborhood once it starts. He had seen his Brooklyn neighborhood turn from a middle class Black neighborhood with a strong history to one in which he is the only African American left and the newcomers really don’t care about the neighborhood’s history.
Several others attending the forum disagreed with Douglas. They live in Walnut Hills and for years had been part of a community dialogue on how to encourage redevelopment while preserving stable housing and a sense of community and history among the current residents. The neighborhood is now seen as attractive for redevelopment and these community leaders are committed to welcoming new investment while not displacing current residents. They firmly believe Walnut Hills can be a stable, integrated, mixed income community. Read more ›
Locally, some of the current debate has been about the value of requiring contractors bidding on Metropolitan Sewer Dept. (MSD) work to have graduates from a Registered Apprenticeship Program. From a state perspective, Registered Apprenticeship Programs have the overwhelming support of Governor Kasich and both sides of the aisle. The brochure included at the end of this post is published by the current state administration. This text is a cut and paste from currently published State of Ohio material:
“Ohio Registered Apprenticeship (RA) – Active Programs as of 06/08/2012 – by County
Total = 1802 occupational courses among 890 programs (approx. 2 occupations per program, average)
Registered Apprenticeship programs teach high-level skills for today’s workplace. Ohio has more than 1,100 registered apprenticeship programs in fields as diverse as: aerospace, construction, energy, health care, manufacturing, and utilities. Each program includes, at minimum, 2,000 hours of structured on-the-job training and 144 hours per year of related technical instruction.
Both businesses and job seekers benefit from apprenticeship opportunities.
- Businesses gain access to a pool of workers who have been trained to industry specifications at a reasonable cost.
- Apprentices are able to earn a living as they train for high-quality, reliable employment and a rewarding career.”
If the Hamilton County Commissioners follow the Responsible Bidder Ordinance, the contractors who are participants in state certified apprenticeship programs will be the contractors spearheading the bidding on the MSD work. These employers have a long history of working apprentices. Often employers individually sponsor apprentices or in most cases, associations of employers team up with a union and sponsor a group of Read more ›
At the City Club last September, Lee Fisher introduced Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution by laying out two alternative futures from Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities: hope and despair. In his book, “The Metropolitan Revolution,” Katz calls for constructive optimism and for pragmatic approaches to social problems. As the holiday season approached, I watched the film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I asked myself: Do we live in idyllic Bedford Falls or in the nightmare of Pottersville? Is our society headed towards hope or despair?
To restore hope, we need to agree across the political spectrum on this principle of political pragmatism: minimum necessary social intervention by government into our mixed economy and civil society. Next, we should look at the pros and cons of current social policies and compare them to the pros and cons of a range of policy alternatives. Such a common-sense, bipartisan form of policy analysis, informed by social science research, can enable our democratic institutions to determine the best mix of the public, nonprofit and market sectors to fund and to deliver services and benefits addressing human needs in education, health, housing, employment, human services, etc. and to do so in a way which advances economic development. Read more ›
Editor Intro: The Cincinnati Forum welcomes Greg Rogers as he shares his personal experiences in the world of temp work while seeking full-time employment.
Source: The Office (January 1971): 19. A Kelly Girl advertisement for “The Never-Never Girl.”
“Bait and Switch” is alive and well in the world of online employment ads. Remember the phrase “false advertising”? I did just succeed in getting CareerBuilder and Aerotek to take down an ad that said “Direct Hire” and “Our client is hiring over 200 people for their location in Mason, Ohio.” The client isn’t hiring anyone. It’s a temp job. Three month contract with the client. The staffing agency will be your employer. Of course I have no problem with the concept of temporary staffing. But “Direct Hire” and “Our client is hiring” don’t sound like they refer to temporary staffing.
In addition to the vast and increasing discrepancy between those with salaried jobs with desks, and those with hourly jobs who quite often have to stand while working, there is an epidemic within large corporations of creating a new, lower class of employees, who work alongside the regular ones. I’m talking about “temps.” Read more ›
January 22, 2014
Dear Commissioners Hartmann, Monzel and Portune:
Your Commission now has before it a plan that would relocate the Offices of the County Coroner, the Crime Lab, certain other County Sheriff functions and the Hamilton County Board of Elections to the former Mercy Hospital property in Mount Airy at 2446 Kipling Avenue.
While this may be an excellent opportunity to provide additional and much needed space for our Coroner and Crime Lab, many community members, including Ishton Morton, the President of the Local NAACP, Cincinnati Council Member PG Sittenfeld and Ohio State Representative Denise Driehaus spoke at a public hearing of the Board of Elections on Tuesday to oppose any plan that would relocate Hamilton County’s early voting center to Mount Airy.
Here are the reasons expressed for opposing the location of early voting in Mt. Airy: Read more ›
Low Bidder – No Bidder or Know Bidder?
The concept of awarding a construction project for public works to the apparent low bidder has proven to be a public owner’s nightmare and more expensive than anticipated on many projects in many situations. Not infrequently, the owner would prefer to pay more money and award to a bidder other than the low bidder.
Yo, Bob, wait a minute. If a company says they will do the job for ten million and the next bidder is ten million two hundred thousand, why in the world would the public spend an extra two hundred thousand of public money for the same job, especially if our architect estimated the job to cost 10.2 million and this guys under estimate?
Aren’t we just getting a good deal from a contractor who needs the work and is cutting back on profit to keep the workforce busy?
Let me think a minute. The question, ‘Under what scenario would a public agency award a job to the second bidder?’
Possible reasons for our answers:
Ok, ‘scenario one’… Read more ›