Saturday, January 17, 2009

Honoring MLK Jr. Day: Read the Letter

As we approach the holiday commemorating the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I have a homework assignment for those interested.

Read, or reread, his Letter from Birmingham Jail, as I did this weekend. It is one of the most forceful pieces of communication in human history. Simply inspiring.

It's also a reminder of how conditions in this country only 45 years ago were so unacceptable for so many Americans. And how a brave few, our own Rev. Shuttlesworth among them, stepped up and risked everything to change this, gradually building a vast army for justice. Their courageous and steadfast commitment to change and justice, while so many other sat on the sidelines, changed this country, changed all of us, forever.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Calling All Citizens! We Want Your Help

Today I issued a call out to citizens and community leaders today to help the County move forward on a number of important issues. We need your help.

From economic development and zoning, to health care, to taxes, many important decisions across the County are made by citizens and volunteers who serve on committees and commissions on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. Today, there are many vacancies on these committees that we need to fill, and more will be opening up in the next two years.

We're calling on citizens with the interest and dedication to serve the community to step forward to fill these important posts.

Positions exist on numerous important boards, including:

  • the Community Action Agency
  • Local Corrections Planning Board
  • the Tax Levy Review Committee
  • the Public Library Board, and others.

Please send in applications by January 21 to take on some of these important leadership roles. For full information, and for an application, citizens can access our website here.

Help End Our Travel Tax: Take the Survey

I'm so pleased that the Chamber of Commerce is proactively pushing to reduce our nation-leading airfares. As they make clear, it's not just an enormous added cost to local residents, it's a major business cost, and a major problem for our region as we compete for tourists and business visitors and others.

The Chamber and the airport have created an online survey, that could help make the case to Delta that they are losing a lot of business due to these airfares. I encourage everyone to take it, by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Court of Appeals: Creatively Saving Taxpayer Dollars

Many departments worked hard last year to save money in a challenging time.

I want to highlight one example of creatively doing so.

In the middle of last year, Appeals Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker and I met, and he and his staff proposed a creative idea. Instead of having the County pay for County lawyers (prosecutors, clerks, etc.) to take private Continuing Legal Education Courses (all lawyers must take 24 hours of CLE courses over two years), why not have the County host an in-house set of classes for which our employees get some of the credits they need?

Well, we worked together, scheduled a morning in December at Paul Brown Stadium, and Judge Dinkelacker applied for and received the needed Supreme Court accreditation for the courses. Ultimately, 83 full-time County employees attended for several hours of courses, despite a snow storm that morning. 23 other attorneys also attended.

Total estimated savings: $11,205.

The best part is that this is just the start: we can repeated the idea in 2009 and beyond, expand the number and scope of the courses that are taught, and generate even more savings.

Thanks to Judge Dinkelacker and his hard-working staff for thinking of and implementing this cost-saving idea.

Congratulations to Harris, Thanks to Voinovich

Congratulations to Greg Harris, the newest member of Cincinnati City Council. For a lot of reasons, Greg will make a strong Councilmember. I really look forward to working with him on his priorities of public safety and economic growth.

I was also pleased to see so many skilled and qualified people interview for the position; it's gratifying to know so many energetic and qualified citizens want to serve our community.

As for the retirement of George Voinovich, I want to join the many people across party lines who are thanking him for his decades of service to Ohio.

I got to know Senator Voinovich best when he, I and others from the community toured Price Hill and spoke to citizens in Northside only a few months ago. I was so impressed by his deep knowledge of community issues--as he walked through a community, you could watch and see that he was doing so with his Mayor, County Auditor and County Commissioner "glasses" on, having served in all those positions.

While he's leaving in 2010, I look forward to continuing to work with the Senator on foreclosure and economic revitalization issues.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Priority One as Board President: Reviving Our Economy

Today, I am thrilled to have received the support of my colleagues Todd Portune and Greg Hartmann as the next President of the County Commission. It is both a great responsibility, and a great opportunity to lead and produce results at a challenging time.

In the coming two years, nothing is more important than leading a local and regional economic recovery. Not only will this address the top concern of citizens and families in our community—so many of whom are caught up in the economic crisis. But only such a recovery will allow us to generate the revenues to fund the public safety and other priority services that citizens expect and demand.

While we can’t control everything from a local level, there’s much we can do to spark immediate relief and recovery, and to assure that we are as competitive as possible when the national economy begins to turn around. So our priority will be to push in every responsible way to help spur that recovery locally.

The strategy has three straightforward goals.

First, we must provide immediate relief to working, middle class families caught up in the economic crisis. The true engine of any economic turnaround will be renewed financial stability and confidence among the working, middle class families of this community. If they are employed, securely in their home, making ends meet, spending as they did prior to last fall, and confident, we will ultimately recover. If they are not, the economy will struggle. Doing everything we can to renew the financial stability among the middle class, working families who make up the majority of this community is therefore critical.

Second, we must implement a job attraction and retention strategy, building on the strengths we already have, tapping into the opportunities of the future, and tying our residents and small businesses into every opportunity that comes our way through job training and effective workforce development.

Third, we must take advantage of the numerous opportunities and resources that will be coming our way to invest in infrastructure and economic growth. And we must invest these dollars strategically, supporting those projects and investments that will create long-term economic growth and competitiveness.

As a County, to do all this well, we must also coordinate our numerous community and private efforts so we are all rowing in the same direction. And we must measure our work rigorously so we know where we are going, what is working, and what is not.

There’s much to do in the next few years. It will all take hard work. But we’re well positioned as a community because we start off with so many strengths. With all hands on deck, and everyone working in the same direction, we will get the job done.

For the full Economic Recovery Strategy, click here, and here.

For an Enquirer overview of the plan, go here.

Other stories: here, here and here.

I Agree: Mary Ronan Has Been Impressive

A story ran in today's paper about the great reviews Mary Ronan has received as the interim Superintendent.

The school board has to make a decision about whether to start a new search for a permanent Superintendent. I'm not in a position, and wouldn't presume, to suggest what they should do. And they certainly need to come up with concrete evaluation and performance criteria.

But I'm not surprised by the near universal praise of her by those quoted in the story, and the others who are saying the same thing out in the community. I too have been incredibly impressed by her performance, both from what I've watched, what I've heard from others, as well as from my own personal interaction with her.

The board would be hard pressed to find anyone more skilled and qualified.
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