30 May 2011

Explanation Sought

I ran a few errands this Memorial Day morning and, as expected, did not see many cars or people... except for the THIRTEEN police vehicles I saw within a 1 hour time frame in downtown, West End and Camp Washington.

So I'm wondering: is there an elevated threat level, or does CPD acknowledge veterans by giving double overtime to everyone who requests it?

24 May 2011

Final Note for BagPipes?

The Business Courier is reporting that BagPipes Irish Pub has not paid it's rent and is about to be evicted. It also reports that its employees (numbering around 40, according to an earlier article) have not been paid, either.

It's always sad to see a downtown business bite the dust. However, based on the Urbanspoon and Yelp reviews, BagPipes seems to have had some serious management, staff and food issues that it never overcame. And there's also the curse of 7th & Race, if you believe in that sort of thing. I think I'm starting to.

I never made it to BagPipes so I can't offer my own experience, but I think these excerpts from Yelp and Urbanspoon basically tell the sad story:

If you enjoy the kind of lunch or dinner experience where you hardly see your server, overpay for mediocre and inconsistently cooked food, and get to watch the head chefs drinking shots or playing Golden Tee instead of making sure food is getting to the tables hot, then you'll love BagPipes.

Bagpipes advertises 27 beers on top and a wide selection of bottles. That would be great if the beer was actually stocked.

This maybe a great bar but they need to revisit their food strategy because at this rate, they will lucky to make through summer. If you are looking for decent food - save your time and money.

There was an odd pinball machine in the far corner being played by the chef and other kitchen help... I hope they washed their hands every time they re-entered the kitchen... The food we did select was mediocre at best. The bathrooms were dirty, as was the floor in the main dining area. Overall, this place will probably only remain open for another month before closing due to poor management, staffing and overall quality.

...the service was terrible. It took 15 minutes just to get our drinks and every drink order after that took just as long... The meatloaf my friend ordered was overcooked and my fish and chips were disgusting.

We ordered the corned beef flatbread appetizer, that should have never left the kitchen... The potato pancakes (3 small, flavorless & greasy for $3) should have been sent back. Oh, and how could I forget the live entertainment, Matt Snow, gave me nothing but a headache. I am still wondering why an Irish bar had a guy singing Sinatra. I am pretty sure a year from now this palce will be closed.

I hope something else opens up at this corner soon but more than that I hope the next person knows what the fuck they're doing so they get it right. This is getting ridiculous.

16 May 2011

Rare Ducks and Giant Poops

from WVXU:

“The chase is on. There are butterflies in my stomach. But the rush of Adrenaline is intoxicating. You know the feeling. Like a teenager on your first date? Or maybe when you and your buddies were hanging around your college dorm on a Friday afternoon then impulsively decide to make a 200 mile mad dash to the Dire Straits concert three hours before start? The chase is on. There’s a Garganey in Harrison, OH.”

I'd like to give this duck the benefit of the doubt and presume it's not the one responsible for dropping fourteen-- yes, FOURTEEN-- plops of bird poop on my car this past Saturday (at once, mind you). Nine hit the windshield (itself a personal best) and when I got out to clean it up, I counted 5 more on the hood and roof.

My first thought was that there was a pterodactyl up there (come on, FOURTEEN plops?) but then I figured a big goose that ate the garbage from El Toro Mexican restaurant in Hyde Park Plaza is probably the likelier explanation.

Returning to the pterodactyl line of thought for a moment, I paused to consider the ramifications if they still existed, or more precisely, if their massive falling poops still existed. In the early days of the automobile many people would have been killed. Only when materials, especially glass, could be made strong enough would car travel be truly safe from the threat of pterodactyl poops. We are indeed fortunate not to have to face this threat.

13 May 2011

Observations from Special Session of Council

The session lasted 2.5 hrs. THE EXORCIST started it off, announcing he had a list of 25 questions. He first asked the City Manager to explain what legislative authority (granted by Council) the administration had to use the funds to pay for the streetcar. Mr. Dohoney then listed the ordinances, motions and resolutions which did this. This irked me because this information is online and THE EXORCIST could have saved time by looking it up himself. It’s almost as he was more interested in egotistical grandstanding than anything else. Imagine that.

THE EXORCIST gave me a chuckle, though, when he stated that motions have no legal authority and are “friv-yoo-lous.” He said it again later in the meeting.

Leslie Ghiz played with her phone a lot and voiced concern about whether this was the right time to fund a streetcar system. As I understood her, she is not opposed to a streetcar, she is just opposed to voting for a streetcar. Then she left for about 20 min, came back for another 20 min, then got up and walked around back and forth, finally sat down again for a few more minutes and then left for good about halfway through the meeting.

Lately I’ve been describing Ghiz as the epitome of “phoning it in” and she couldn’t have done a better job of reinforcing that notion if she had a SIM card implanted in her head.

I think Wendell Young was there but I’m not sure, that might have been the furniture. Oh, yes, he was there… I remember he was playing with his tablet PC for a while. I could see the screen and it kind of looked like he was shopping for another tablet.

Wayne Lippert stated he was focused on the worst-case scenario of Detroit. He asked why the projections did not include a worst-case scenario. Dohoney answered that the projections were meant to be realistic, not worst-case. Lippert also voiced concern that the project may not get the full $25m in federal money. Lippert stated he previously worked in Congress and knew how this particular funding works.

What struck me most was what Lippert did NOT say. He did not say that he would do whatever he could to secure those funds. He did not say that he would be part of the solution. How nice would it be if we had elected officials who looked for solutions... who looked for ways to overcome obstacles, instead of just pointing them out... who are leaders and not just nattering nabobs of negativism?

And Lippert wasn’t the only one. His fellow newcomer, Amy Murray, did the same thing. She questioned the “stealing” of Banks TIF monies to use for building Phase I of the route which does not include the Banks (planned for Phase II). But she did not say she would do everything possible to make sure Phase II goes forward. No solutions. No leadership.

About halfway through, Quinlivan proposed that they proceed to the public comment portion of the meeting. THE EXORCIST was pissed off about this and called it a “stunt.” Oh, the irony. In any case, Quinlivan managed to shut off Winburn’s ego spigot and if I ever run into her, I’ll buy her a delicious lunch at Tacqueria Mercado, where I recently tried the tripe taco and thought it was pretty good.

The public comment had two notable aspects: First, the speakers were overwhelmingly in support of the streetcar. Given that this whole meeting was a Charlie Winburn joint and that he rounded up the crazies of WBDZ, NAACP and COAST and was still totally outnumbered (by 9 to 1, I understand), this has to be regarded as an epic FAIL.

Second, ALL the speakers who opposed the streetcar yelled into the mic and they ALL talked past their allotted time. Every one of them. One demanded an illegal transfer of funds and another got in a tussle with security.


(1) If Council's GOP faction spent as much time & energy solving problems as it does finding them, Cincinnati would benefit.

(2) There seems to be a direct correlation between the vehemence of one's opposition and (a) problems with anger management, and also (b) lack of factual knowledge.

10 May 2011

Provincialism vs. Progress

In an obvious ploy to garner campaign support from the COAST and NAACP ass clown posses, Charlie Winburn has scheduled a special Council session tomorrow, May 11, at 6pm to hoot 'n' holla about the streetcar. Griff and Quimbob have already called out this outrageous use of public resources for a personal campaign.

This is my 13th year as a downtown resident. Unlike most of the "pioneers" who have moved downtown in the past few years, I do NOT think OTR is the greatest, coolest neighborhood ever and I am NOT gung-ho about the streetcar. It thought it was a fair criticism to say it had a "if you build it they will come" aspect.

So although I am not gung-ho and uppity, I do support it 100%. Three key things (I guess you could say six) factored into my perspective:

(1) For the first time in recent history, 3 key stakeholder groups are on the same page about downtown's future: the public (which already voted FOR the streetcar), the business community (of which many groups and individuals have expressed support) and public officials.

(2) OTR is a long-neglected historic gem. Is any neighborhood more in need of revitalization? OTR should be an area with desirable residential, business and recreational opportunities. The streetcar provides incentive to develop these opportunities and that is why property owners and businesses support it. All of these developments increase the tax base. A streetcar system is an investment, not an expenditure.

(3) A streetcar system gets more people to more places more often. The more people there are in an area, the safer it will be. Anyone who has walked around Chicago or NYC late at night knows this. While anything can happen anywhere, the basic rule is that criminals don't want to be in busy places. A streetcar system will increase "people density" and force criminals to go elsewhere. And let's be honest, many criminals will get priced out of the neighborhood before the first streetcar makes its run anyway.

So there it is. I see the streetcar system as an investment that attracts residents and businesses, an investment that increases the tax base and increases public safety (which itself reduces tax spending). This is an idea that makes sense, regardless of whether it makes a downtown newbie feel hip and cool.

In a way, there is no better endorsement of the streetcar than to look at who opposes it: COAST, WBDZ/NAACP, FOP, Kasich. This is a pantheon of clownish, self-righteous ignorance. It would be so disappointing to have to include GOP in that list but Amy Murray and Wayne Lippert have already joined Winburn. I think Ghiz will, too.

Few things in politics are black & white but I think the battle over the streetcar comes down to provincialism vs. progress. I have a stake in this and it is not acceptable for a small but vocal fringe minority of visionless, ignorant blowhards to continually impede this city's progress.

I will be at City Hall tomorrow evening and if you choose progress over provincialism, you should be there, too.

08 May 2011

Afternoon Stroll on Stilts?

I saw this guy crossing Monmouth St. I think he entertains the kids at the Levee. If that's a different guy then they both have the same pants, which I suppose is possible since there probably are not that many pant designs made for this getup. But I'm sure it's the same guy. He was going back to his car which was parked surprisingly far from the Levee considering he has to walk around on stilts.

Seeing this guy reminded me of a softball teammate. We have an ongoing discussion about whether he is fast or not. On one hand, his legs move slowly, probably slower than anyone else on the team. On the other hand, he is 6'6" so his strides are so long that he covers twice as much ground as anyone else. So is he fast or not? And why do we keep losing?

03 May 2011

Southwest Ohio has Unhealthy Air

From the Journal of More Bad Things You Really Can't Do Much About comes the 2011 rankings of America's most polluted areas. Let's see how our region fared.

The rankings were done in 3 categories:

OZONE: Tristate is 15th worst
CHRONIC AIR POLLUTION: Tristate is 7th worst
ACUTE AIR POLLUTION: Not on list (I presume this means we're doing a good job of spreading out our historic building demolitions)

I guess I'm feeling good about my newly procured HEPA air cleaner. I haven't had it for long but I got it in the hope of helping my dust allergies. Now that I know we have the 7th worst air in America, maybe I should invest in another one.