Protest Greets Legislative Ghostwriters in Cincinnati; Enquirer Absent

Yesterday inside the Netherland Hotel, a discreet committee drafted America’s next season of conservative state legislation.  Outside, bucket drums, megaphones, and a hundred angry voices roared in protest.  And three blocks away, The Cincinnati Enquirer stayed home.

ALEC members convene privately; image from an organizational brochure.

Courageous members of the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC), peeked out of the hotel’s grand entrance during their recess, to survey the opposition.  Until now, their organization of 2000+ state legislators and corporate executives has stayed under the public radar, while crafting 1000+ items of legislation each election cycle since 1973.  *Numbers reported by ALEC.

Their goal: an economic climate friendlier to corporations.  This year’s anti-collective-bargaining bills in Ohio and Michigan were two recent triumphs. Continue reading

Livestock Care Standards Advance Without Enforcement Plan

Livestock Care Board members Harold Dates (l) and Dominic Marchese (r) at last week’s board meeting.

Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Board moved with unusual swiftness and cheer last week, to vote the final 25 pages of their document one step closer to entering the Ohio Revised Code. Likely to become effective this July, these will be the state’s first statutes regulating the care of chickens, pigs, cows, horses, turkeys, sheep, goats, alpacas and llamas—all of whom are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Congratulations have hummed within the board and animal protection groups, for arriving at mutually-palatable standards after a year-long haul.  But as the whittled rules move forward, no structure exists to enforce them. Continue reading

Relief and resentment fly, after latest veal standards decision

Video coverage transcript:

A tense crowd of nearly 200 people watched last week, as Ohio’s Livestock Care Standards Board granted future veal calves the space to turn around in a circle. The unanimous vote reversed a decision made just one month ago, which permitted farmers to house calves in narrow, solitary stalls. That first decision prompted over 4,700 Ohioans to email the board, most of them asking for the use of those stalls to end. Continue reading

Livestock Care Board scrambles for consensus on veal calves, seeks public input

Jeff Wuebker, a pork producer and member of the Livestock Care Standards Board, deliberating.

Responding to pressure from veal farmers, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board voted last week—by a 6-5 margin—to erase a new standard that would have granted veal calves enough space to turn around in their stalls.

The vote has jeopardized a delicate compromise between the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and agricultural trade groups.  Now, the board has until April 5 to reach a consensus, and is accepting public comments on veal standards until Tues. March 15, at ecomments@agri.ohio.gov. Continue reading

High turnout of “elefriends” protest Big Top cruelty

Over 40 concerned tri-state citizens gathered outside the US Bank Arena last night, to protest Ringling Bros. Circus’ methods of training and punishing animals. As costumed elephants were led into the building behind them, several of the demonstrators explained why they were there.

Midwest Culinary Inst. creates “Vegan Ooh La La!” Banquet

Update, 3/24/11: Seats at the Summit Restaurant were packed with vegans and omnivores epicurious about this menu:

~Arugula-Spinach Salad w/ hummus, Castelvetrano olives, pickled peppers, radish and roasted lemon vinaigrette

~Turnip-butternut squash soup with pumpkin spice, chestnut, and cardamom

~Broccolini with button and shiitake mushrooms in maple-thyme jus

~Black bean-lentil cakes with cumin-spiced collard greens, tortillas, and mango-ginger sauce

~Avocado relish with jalapeño peppers and cilantro

~Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter Torte w/ Coconut Mousse, Chocolate Vegan Gelato and Whipped Passion Fruit

Here are some photos from the event, of the chef, his staff, their guests, and musicians from the local Cajun-style band, Lagniappe. Continue reading

“Citizen Scientists” Needed for National Birdcount

Tree swallows meet in Otto Armleder Park. Photo courtesy of Konstantin Vasserman

This Saturday, join a nation-wide project to help Audubon and Cornell University take an annual “snapshot” of bird populations across the continent. It will be day two of the 14th annual Great Backyard Birdcount, and the third year that citizens will pool their observational forces at the Clifford Bird-Banding Station in Delhi. Continue reading

Protesters, neighbors deliver silent “no” to proposed egg mega-farm

Thanks for your patience with the rough edges of this, Sentient Cincinnati’s first video news piece.  We’ll work on shooting crisper audio for the next one.

Transcript of video coverage:

Today at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg, a three-day hearing concluded to determine whether two men from Iowa will be allowed to build an industrial egg farm in Union County, that would use six million caged hens to make liquid egg products.

Ohio Director of Agriculture Robert Boggs had already denied a permit to Hi-Q Egg Products, saying that the company had not made adequate plans to fortify the road system in their would-be neighborhood of West Mansfield. Continue reading