Saturday, November 29, 2008

Great Seasons, Elder, Anderson and UC

Although both fell a little short at the end, congratulations to Elder and Anderson for outstanding football seasons. Both schools did our area proud as they marched through the state playoffs to the finals.

And of course, thanks and congratulations to Brian Kelly and the Bearcats for putting us on the national college football map. And from Reading High School to Colerain, it's so great to see so many home-grown players leading the way.

I catch as much football as I can, and was thrilled to see four UC and Elder wins in person this year.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

As of today, the PepTalk blog has raised $6,014.99 for the FreeStore! Thanks to all who have given so generously.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Productive Meeting: Yes to PTR, Yes to NSP

At today's Commission meeting, the Commissioners brought closure to some important issues I've blogged about lately:

1) we unanimously approved the property tax rebate ("PTR") that was part of the Stadium Vote of 1996. As Commissioner Portune stated, we must keep promises made to the voters--and this one was certainly made clearly. And as I added, once a promise is made, and the voters vote, it becomes a clear mandate for us to carry out. As much as we need dollars in our tough budget, to have not abided by this mandate, and to use PTR funds to bail out our general fund problems, would be a deeply illegitimate action.

2) we unanimously approved the $8 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program plan we have worked so hard to put together over the past month. This will mean real investment, hopefully in early-mid 2009, throughout the County. Here's a link to the program summary:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Touring Our Community with Sen. Voinovich

Today, I joined Mayor Mallory, Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Berding and numerous other community leaders in welcoming Senator George Voinoich to the City and County, taking a tour of some of the communities facing the housing crisis head on, and explaining how we plan to invest the $8 million the County recently received from the federal government to battle foreclosures and blight.

For the Channel 9 story, go to:

Overall, it was an incredibly productive morning. After walking some of the streets of Price Hill and observing some of the most troubled properties, along with some that have been rehabilitated by Price Hill Will, we hosted a community roundtable in Northside. There, we gave the Senator input on how the federal housing bill that led to the dollars might be amended to make the program more useful and workable at the neighborhood level.

I'm glad to say that Senator Voinovich reacted very favorably to the County's approach to spending the dollars, which we will approve at tomorrow's Commission meeting, and then submit to the federal government by December 1.

He also appeared very impressed by the County/City partnership on foreclosure prevention counseling, which has prevented more than 700 foreclosures since early 2007. We underscored the priority of such counseling efforts, and urged him to consider ways to allow more federal dollars to be invested in counseling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Economic Crisis Survey: Results

Very sobering results from my survey last month on the state of the economy, and how it's affecting our decisions. But also some very good ideas on how to kick-start things.

Here are the basic results:

1. People are seeing and feeling the impact directly: Of those surveyed, 66% know someone who has lost his/her job, 37% know someone who has lost their home to foreclosure, and 69% said their employer has been negatively impact by the economy. 54% say the current state of affairs will reduce their holiday shopping "some," and 35% say they will reduce shopping "very much."

2. Respondents are pessimistic about the prospects of recovery before late 2009. Only 6.4% believe the economy will recover in late 2008, and only 19.1% believe it will stabilize and begin to recover in early-mid 2009. 42.6% believe the economy will slump for most of 2009, and that recovery will begin by the end of 2009. And 34% believe it will slump the entire year. On the positive side, 70% believe the election of a new President will help improve things.

3. People were mixed on the bailout of Wall St., but leaned against it overall. 35% supported it to some degree; 18.% were neutral; and 46% were opposed to some degree. (Interesting results, given that the local Member of Congress who voted against the bailout lost, and the one who supported it won).

4. There was much blame to go around on who was responsible for the mess, but the most oft-blamed were 1) The Bush Administration (73% selected as playing a significant role); 2) subprime lenders (73%); Wall St. (69%); deregulation practices (69%); individual consumers/homebuyers (61.8%).

Of the policy options and solutions floated:

- At the national level, people are most supportive of the following solutions: 1) energy independence plan; 2) health care reform; 3) reduced government spending; and 4) better oversight/regulation of Wall St.

- At the County level, people are most supportive of the following solutions: 1) efforts to attract more jobs/businesses to area; 2) creating an innovation economy; 3) make the region more business friendly; and 4) investment in infrastructure.

Thanks for your input. This was very valuable feedback.

PepTalk Blog Vaults into FreeStore Lead!

While I promised not to trash talk, thanks to an incredibly generous donation earlier today ($5,000!!!), I am comfortable claiming that I have stormed into the lead of the Battle of the Blogs to help the FreeStore and the families it serves. My total is now about $5,300.

Thanks to all those who have given (through any blog), but particularly the incredibly generous donor(s) who gave this morning.

UPDATE: A story on Channel 5 this morning reported that 7,661 people stood in the cold and rain for emergency food at the FreeStore yesterday--a record, and a 19% increase over 2007:

Again, to give to the Free Store Foodbank, and take part in the Battle of the Blogs, do the following:

1) Go to the virtual store, and make your purchases: (takes 3 minutes)

2) Comment below, however you wish, on the amount you gave (I won't list names, but will keep track of the tally).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Keeping Promises, part II

Good story today outlining the Property Tax Rebate, its history, and why all three commissioners are so steadfast in respecting the will of the voters in 1996. Hopefully this will dramatically reduce the number of times people suggest we dip into the PTR to solve general fund budget problems:
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