Thursday, January 1, 2004

2004: Looking Ahead


Top news stories to come

REFORMS FOR CITY POLICE

Police reforms in Cincinnati will continue this year. In the wake of Nathaniel Jones' death in police custody, the department will purchase 1,100 Tasers so officers will have a way to subdue suspects without using nightsticks or deadly force. An independent monitor will continue to watch over other changes and reforms that are part of a settlement between the city and federal authorities.

BALLOT DECISIONS

Ohioans will choose congressmen, state legislators and county officeholders. Repeal of a 1-cent sales tax increase may also land on the November ballot. Key race in Kentucky: the open congressional seat being vacated by Ken Lucas.

FREEDOM CENTER OPENS

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opens in 2004. The $110 million museum on Cincinnati's riverfront honors the informal network of "conductors" who aided escaping slaves. The center's exhibits and programs are expected to draw tens of thousands of visitors a year.

GOVERNORS FACING TESTS

The governors of Ohio and Kentucky will face major challenges. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft will focus on creating new high-tech jobs in a state that has lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs in the past three years. New Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher promises a tax reform package to deal with a $700 million budget deficit.

HEALTH CARE COSTS

The rising costs of health care and benefits will remain a hot topic in 2004. More companies are shifting to so-called consumer-driven benefit plans that increase the amount employees pay for insurance. And more doctors are pushing for legal reforms that would reduce the rates they pay for malpractice insurance.

COUNCIL REFORMS?

A mayoral commission is studying ways to reform how Cincinnati City Council members are elected. One possibility: replace at-large elections with district races. The commission may also examine whether to increase the powers of the mayor and change the job of the city manager.

BOND ISSUES ON THE BALLOT

At least half of Ohio's 612 school districts will have levies or bond issues on the ballot this year, including 18 in Southwest Ohio. Some districts, such as Reading, are trying to stave off a financial crisis. Others, such as Lakota, want to build new schools to keep up with rising enrollment.

SEWER DISTRICT DECISION

The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati should find out this year whether U.S. District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel is satisfied with its plan to spend $1.5 billion over 19 years to fix overflows into streets, streams and basements. If not, the Sierra Club could be allowed to proceed with its lawsuit against the sewer district.

SUBURBAN SPRAWL

As Cincinnati's suburbs continue to grow, so will the problems associated with suburban sprawl. The hot growth areas extend from Green Township in the west to Liberty Township in the north to Miami Township in the east. In the coming year, suburban homeowners will be asked to pay for new schools, wider highways and extended sewer lines.

STANDARDIZED TESTING

Ohio and other states will fine-tune their standardized testing in line with the federal government's No Child Left Behind legislation. The state will continue to phase out proficiency exams in favor of diagnostics and achievement tests.




TOP STORIES
Revelers ring in 2004 under tight security
Direct help coming for sewer woes
Health Alliance, Anthem talks failing
Plan takes on 'black-on-black' crime
2004: Looking Ahead

IN THE TRISTATE
Addyston losing stalwarts
Warren County ballot sparse
From the state capitals
SUV, city house combed for clues
She spends her life helping those who need it the most
Inspector moved on complaint of conflict
History teacher focuses on role of bystanders during events of note
Knowledge game played on local TV
Mason store manager gets police award
Neighbors briefs
Drunken driving statute toughened as 2004 begins
New Year's Day closings
I-270 shootings clues sought
A year of weird headlines puts Ohio on the map
Fertility expert may run for coroner
Former hunters, they focus now on conserving species
Nuns' pizzeria gets breather
Tax repeal try is thorn
Public safety briefs
Discussion, workshops open to community
Tristate Briefs

ENQUIRER COLUMNISTS
Good Things Happening
Crowley: Restaurants want helping from levee

LIVES REMEMBERED
Carol Easton Fox, planner, analyst
James Williams' pastry showed artistry

KENTUCKY STORIES
New crib, playpen law takes effect
Mother, 2 kids killed in blaze
N.Ky. chamber counts ways to find road money