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Two national community engagement movements to gather in Cincinnati tonight

Transition Town Northside will be meeting tonight at 5pm, and members of the Over-the-Rhine community will be taking part in National Night Out at historic Findlay Market.

The National Night Out event in Over-the-Rhine offers a chance for community members to engage with their local law enforcement officers. Police officers from District One of the Cincinnati Police Department will be at the event that will include food and games. Organizers state that the event is geared towards creating a safe, healthy community by strengthening relationship with the community and its police force. The event will take place at Findlay Market’s farmers shed (map) on the north side of the market house from 5pm to 6:30pm. Please contact the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce for more information at (513) 241-2690.

The Cincinnati Police Department will also be participating in five other National Night Out events throughout the city.  District One will also be at Mt. Adams Monastery (map) from 6pm to 8pm, District Two at the Mt. Washington Recreation Center (map) from 6pm to 9pm, District Three at the Kroger Grocery on Ferguson Road (map) from 5pm to 8pm, District Four at Fleischmann Gardens Park (map) from 6pm to 8pm, and District Five at College Hill Presbyterian Church (map) from 6pm to 9pm.

Meanwhile in Northside, a group committed to helping the neighborhood build community and achieve a more fossil-free existence will be meeting from 5pm to 7pm at the McKie Center (map). The goal of Transition Town Northside is to create an umbrella under which like minded individuals and organizations can pool their efforts, with the main goal of working towards a neighborhood that is local and sustainable. The grass-roots, community effort is generally geared toward responding to the challenges presented by peak oil.

All of these events are free and open to the public and most can be accessed by Metro bus service (plan your trip). Free bicycle parking is also available in the immediate area for most locations.

News Opinion Politics

Cincinnati plans multi-million dollar surveillance camera system

The City of Cincinnati, in combination with the Uptown Consortium, has announced that 14 new high-tech surveillance cameras will be installed in various locations throughout Downtown (8) and Uptown (6). The cameras are being touted by local officials and community leaders as being a 21st Century crime fighting tool that should make Cincinnati a safer place.

The $19,000/piece cameras are not going to stop at this initial installation, that is expected to be fully operational within the coming months, as officials will have another dozen installed throughout East Price Hill and Westwood along Glenway Avenue by summer. An additional 12 to 15 cameras will be installed to monitor bridges, piers and waterways. Two years from now, officials hope to have 50 to 60 cameras installed across the city in other neighborhoods like Over-the-Rhine, Avondale, College Hill and Northside in addition to those in Downtown, Westwood, East Price Hill, Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview, Corryville and Clifton.

Public safety officials often proclaim that these types of cameras have the ability to deter crime and make neighborhoods safer, when in fact they don’t. Cameras simply move criminal activity around much like citronella candles keep bugs away from your backyard barbecue.

The cameras were paid for by a $2 million federal grant, but what about the ongoing maintenance? Who is going to watch the live video stream, or will someone? Who is going to review the tapes? What will be reviewed? What about archiving…how long, how much, where, and who manages it? What is the City going to actually do with all this information?

It would seem to be logical to assume that the primary use, for the cameras, will be for building cases against those who have already committed crimes. So, once again, how is this making the city safer? Instead it would seem that the cameras would just make prosecution more effective in some cases. But at the same time, I would imagine the criminals will be smart enough to see the bright white and prominently branded cameras and move their operations just outside the cone of view.

So then what, do we install more cameras…cameras on every street corner? Who will pay for that kind of an operation, and are Cincinnatians accepting of this Big Brother kind of a move? In New York they are in the process of installing some 3,000 cameras that will be fully operational by 2010. The costs of New York’s system is pegged at $90 million with a $25 million surveillance center in the project’s first phase in lower Manhattan.

The London Evening Standard just reported that even with London’s impressive array of more than 10,000 CCTV cameras, the most expansive system of its kind anywhere, that roughly 80 percent of crimes go unsolved. The $334+ million system not only is not solving the core issues surrounding the need for individuals to result to criminal behavior, but the system is not even showing effectiveness in the one area it is suppose to shine.

This approach to crime fighting seems to be a reactionary way to manage complex criminal behavior. More money should be spent on identifying the causes behind individuals resulting to criminal behavior, and how to address that. Instead what we’re doing is spending $2 million on a project that at best will put more non-violent criminals behind bars or at least through our legal system, and at worst, become cumbersome to manage and prove ineffective much like London’s advanced Big Brother system.

News Politics

Little by Little, Cincinnati Improves Recycling Program

Last week the city of Cincinnati announced changes to its current curbside recycling program. Members of City Council, Mayor Mallory and representatives from Rumpke and the Office of Environmental Quality gathered at the original LaRosa’s pizza location on Boudinot Avenue to make their announcement. In partnership with Rumpke Recycling, the City will now collect more items than ever before including all plastic bottle types (still no lids), jugs and pizza boxes (no leftover pepperoni or banana peppers please). Additionally, households can put out multiple recycling bins if their recycling needs exceeds the single green bin.

Click here to order your extra recycling bin.

Acceptable Items for Recycling:

  • All plastic bottles and jugs (no lids)
  • Glass jars and bottles of any color
  • Aluminum, steel and bi-metal cans
  • Empty aerosol cans with lids and tips removed
  • Brown grocery bags
  • Computer paper, and other mixed office paper
  • Corrugated cardboard, broken down to 3′ X 3′
  • Envelopes, with or without windows
  • Junk mail
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers with inserts
  • Paperboard, such as cereal boxes
  • Telephone books
  • Pizza boxes (free of food residue)

Download the list of acceptable recycling materials and guidelines to keep around the house or post for your tenants.

Please be sure to rinse out and dry all jars, jugs and bottles before placing them in your bin. Bottle caps are not currently accepted in the City recycling program, however, plastic lids (i.e. milk jugs) can be taken to any Aveda Institute for recycling. Metal lids (i.e. spaghetti sauce jars) can be recycled at any scrap dealer in the area who accepts steel.

For those residents who do not currently have curbside recycling services (households who have private trash service dumpsters) can collect their recyclables and take them to various recycling drop off locations around the city. Signage at the drop off centers will be updated within the next few weeks to reflect the changes in materials accepted.

Rumpke has not expanded these changes to the entirety of its service area. These changes are only reflected for the City of Cincinnati. According to Sue Magness from the Office of Environmental Quality, “Technically, the new sorting facility is still under construction and they are temporarily warehousing the materials. So Rumpke will expand as new contracts are established (as in the case of the City), or after the installation of the “state of the art” equipment is complete.”

The announcement comes on the heels of tumultuous budget discussions that backtracked on a funding promise that would have provided new larger recycling carts for Cincinnatians and gotten the city started with a RecycleBank program that rewards users for the amount they recycle. Those upgrades to the City’s recycling program would have paid for themselves almost immediately through the higher payments the City would have received from Rumpke Recycling for higher recycling volumes.

Cincinnati Recycling Program Announcement photograph by Jenny Kessler.