At the June 5, 2017 CTM Board meeting, Trustees considered the City Manager’s proposed City Budget item to increase parking meter rates from $0.50 per hour up to $1.00 per hour in Clifton. Most neighborhood business districts were proposed to increase only $0.25 per hour to $0.75 per hour in the City Manager’s proposed City Budget.
After review & discussion of the details, Trustees voted to support an increase in parking meter rates of only $0.25 per hour for a total rate of $0.75 per hour. A discussion of the details and the resolution that CTM passed is below.
Trustees were aware that the City Council Neighborhoods Committee reviewed this matter in detail on May 30, 2017. You can watch a video of this meeting by clicking here. You can read the presentation that was shared on May 30 by the Department of Community & Economic Development: Impacts of Parking-Related Items in City Manager’s Proposed Budget
Here are some key points that Trustees considered prior to voting:
- the Department of Community & Economic Development stated on May 30 that they have not obtained community or business district feedback on the parking meter rate changes;
- the Department of Community & Economic Development stated on May 30 an industry standard that for every 1% increase in parking rate there is a range of 0.1% to 0.4% potential demand decrease for parking;
- the noted industry standard would indicate a potential 20-80% decrease in parking demand in Clifton based on the proposed 200% increase in parking rates;
- the City’s paid contractor for the parking meter systems, Conduent, has recommended a $0.25 / hr increase to $0.75 / hr for parking meter rates in Clifton. This contract collects and analyzes parking meter system data in order to make recommendations;
- CTM made a request to Director of the city’s parking division, Dan Fortinberry, for the data related to the increases in Clifton. He advised the following, “I do not have the report in presentation form as of today. However, I can tell you that the Clifton area has a significantly higher paid utilization and occupancy rate than the other neighborhoods where metered spaces are located. I will get back to you when the information is ready to be released.”;
- Clifton has a very high paid utilization of metered parking and raising rates some will create more turnover in those spaces as opposed to people tying up those spaces for long periods of time;
- City Council will vote on a final budget during the month of June so any delay by CTM could result in having no input to the process on this topic;
- The Treasurer of the Clifton Business & Professional Association (CBPA) stated to CTM on June 5 that while the CBPA likes the rates where they are today, they would support a rate increase that is equally applied to all business districts.
Below is the resolution that CTM approved and will send to City Council, City Manager, and the Mayor of Cincinnati:
Resolution Supporting $0.25 per Hour Parking Meter Rate Increases in Clifton
Whereas the City Manager and the Mayor have proposed a budget for fiscal year 2018 and beyond that increases parking meter rates from $0.50 to $1.00 per hour in the Clifton Neighborhood;
Whereas the Department of Community & Economic Development has stated on May 30 that they have not obtained community or business district feedback on the parking meter rate changes;
Whereas the Department of Community & Economic Development has stated on May 30 an industry standard that for every 1% increase in parking rate there is a range of 0.1% to 0.4% potential demand decrease for parking;
Whereas the noted industry standard would indicate a potential 20-80% decrease in parking demand in Clifton based on the proposed 200% increase in parking rates;
Whereas the City’s paid contractor for the parking meter systems, Conduent, has recommended a $0.25 / hr increase to $0.75 / hr for parking meter rates in Clifton;
Clifton Town Meeting resolves that we support a $0.25 / hr increase in parking meters in the Clifton neighborhood as recommended by the City’s professional contractor, Conduent. CTM does not want a parking meter rate change to cause significant negative impact on our neighborhood especially not our business district. CTM believes further analysis of the impacts on Clifton would be required before increases above $0.25 / hr are implemented.
June 5, 2017
Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) is your neighborhood community council and serves all of the residents and businesses in the Clifton neighborhood. CTM hosts numerous events throughout the year with the hope of connecting businesses with their local customers, bringing together residents for family fun and celebration, and to provide opportunities to explore our neighborhood’s culture and history in new ways.
We are looking for community partners to help us to fulfill these goals. Financial partners are needed to assure that our community events are able to continue and to be successful. We would love to discuss ways to give our presenting sponsors access to our attendees in fun and engaging ways. We just can’t do it without Clifton community partners like you!
If you are interested in connecting with us and sponsoring one of our events or beautification efforts, we would love to talk more. For more information, please contact Brad Hawse by clicking here for email or call him at at 513-55one-3nine00.
Lantern Walk: November 11, 2017
Holiday’s on Ludlow: December 2, 2017
Flower Pots on Ludlow: Throughout Spring, Summer and Fall
Memorial Day Parade and Cookout: May 28, 2018
Presenting Level Sponsors will be included on all digital, social media and paper marketing materials, will be mentioned during any news or media coverage, and receive a Clifton Community Partner framed certificate to show your customers your support for our community.
Community Level Sponsors will receive recognition on digital marketing and social media materials and receive a Clifton Community Partner Certificate to show your customers your support for our community.
Memorial Day Parade and Cookout
Over 150 participants in the annual parade and cookout. This tradition celebrates the Memorial Day holiday with a parade, picnic in Mt. Storm Park with Hotdogs, Hamburgers and entertainment. It serves as a great Kick-off to summer in Clifton and a great sponsorship opportunity!
Presenting Level Sponsor: $500
Community Level Sponsor: $100
17th Annual – Clifton Lantern Walk
Inspired by the old German story that children carried lanterns on a very dark night as they searched for and found Saint Martin’s lost donkey, this great event partners with the Fairview German Language Elementary School.
Presenting Level Sponsor: $250
Community Level Sponsor: $100
Holidays on Ludlow
A yearly Tradition on Ludlow Avenue! Hundreds of residents and visitors from around Cincinnati come to Clifton to Kick-off the Holiday Season with Carriage Rides, Carolers and other Holiday Music, Hot Cocoa and Holiday Light Displays.
Presenting Level Sponsor: $1000
Community Level Sponsor: $100
Flower Pot Sponsor
These flower pots placed throughout Ludlow Avenue add to the vibrancy of our business district. They are watered each week and receive 3 plantings per year. Help us keep Ludlow Beautiful!
This event has been moved inside to Lydia’s on Ludlow (next to the Clifton Plaza) due to expected weather.
Come join us Saturday May 6th from 3-8PM for a live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby on the Clifton Plaza. Presented by Clifton Business and Professional Association, Clifton Town Meeting, and Ludlow 21. Check the poster for further details.
At our May 1st Regular Board meeting at approximately 7:50PM administration and school board representatives from Cincinnati Public Schools will adress Clifton Town Meeting about a new neighborhood school including plans for use of the Historic Clifton School(3711 Clifton Ave) and adjacent Rawson Farm property as its future home. We invite all members of the community to come out and hear the information CPS has to share with us. There will be an amount of time for Q&A and opportunities to learn how to be a part of the process in shaping this change to our community.
Clifton Town Meeting has over the last almost 2 years worked on the issue of assured high quality education access for children of Clifton and keeping the Clifton Cultural Arts Center in its current building. Early on these two issues became intertwined due to the fact that Cincinnati Public Schools had suggested a new school as an option for solving the education access concern. Of course it was clear a possible location for this school could be the Historic Clifton School Building where the CCAC currently resides.
CTM worked with the several stakeholders and developed a position statement. Our board of Trustees unanimously passed supporting this statement last year. Two goals in that position were:
- Assured access to a high quality public school
- The CCAC remain in its current building.
This position was clearly and repeatedly provided to CPS.
Recently CPS announced termination of the lease with CCAC and also moved to purchase the neighboring Rawson Farmhouse property. Our understanding is both will be used for a new neighborhood school serving Clifton, CUF, and Spring Grove Village, or parts thereof.
The lease termination action was taken without knowledge or consent of Clifton Town Meeting and in contrary to our stated position of support of which CPS was well aware.
Now that this situation exists it will begin to have many impacts on our neighborhood, other Clifton education institutions, the immediate surrounding property owners, traffic on Clifton Ave, etc. CTM wants to start today to reach out to our community and begin a process of collecting input for the property use as a school. This input will help us formulate the positions we want to take as community with regard to the future development of the property as a school. Our intent will be to again reach out to CPS and advocate these positions with the purpose of helping make this a successful high quality public school.
Comments from the public at the April CTM Board Meeting on this subject are here.
Saturday April 22 from 7-9PM at The CCAC (3711 Clifton Ave, Cincinnati, OH). Come join your friends and neighbors for an evening of storytelling. Clifton Town Meeting in partnership with Clifton Cultural Arts Center, TriHealth, and Clifton Community Fund proudly present this spoken word experience. This event is free and open to the public. Check out the event poster.
Storytellers from across the region tell stories in a variety of traditions and styles
Omope Carter Daboiku (Dayton, Ohio) is a nationally renowned storyteller and will share stories from the diverse cultures of Appalachia
Cheryl Maxine Couch (Cincinnati , Ohio) is a local actress and storyteller and will be performing a selection of original stories
Jim Flanagan (Circleville, Ohio) is a national award winning storyteller and will tell a collection of both funny and very scary stories
Kevin Cordi ( Columbus, Ohio) is an international award winning storyteller and author, specializing in world-tales, story craft, and imaginative thinking…he will also serve as the evening’s M
Members of the CTM Executive Committe met with the attorneys providing the opinion on the funding proposal for Clifton Market that was approved by the members at the December special meeting. The details of the update are here.
The opinion letter is expected to be received in March.
The CTM Education Committee prepared and transmitted a letter with attachments to the Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education (BOE) and Superintendent Mary Ronan on February 4, 2017. This letter was written to summarize the work of the Committee in advance of a “Fact Finding” meeting with some members of the CPS BOE and CPS Administration on February 7, 2017.
The text of the letter in full is below with links for each attachment.
Attn: Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education, Superintendent and all other interested parties:
On September 14, 2015 Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) voted to create an ad-hoc committee made up of both CTM Trustees and community members to focus on education and improving access to quality public education seats. Over the past 15 months, this group has worked on community engagement, coordination and teamwork with other neighborhood groups, and collection and analysis of data related to school-aged children in the Clifton area. The following is a description of the educational access challenges that brought the Education Committee together and some of the specific efforts the committee has engaged in over the past 15 months.
A. Educational Access Challenges in Clifton
In the wake of the change in magnet school enrollment, many families in Clifton are unable to gain access to the only public school located within our neighborhood unless they win a lottery spot at age 3 to Rising Stars Academy. For those families who do not win the lottery during this small window of opportunity, significant barriers exist to gain access to quality public education in our neighborhood. We have heard from community members who are struggling right now to get their own children into KG (see Attachment A). To complicate this problem further, census data indicates while a robust number (approximately 180 children per year), are born in Clifton, CUF and SGV combined, many move out by elementary school years and a concerning number attend private schools with use of vouchers or charter schools (see and also see Attachment B). In the year 2015-16 alone, the cost to the taxpayers for oucher/charter enrollment was $895,000 (this number excludes the cost of transportation) just using data for 45220 (see Attachment C1 Voucher School data, Attachment C2 Voucher Charter Data, and Attachment C3 Charter School data $ 45220). With the change in magnet enrollment policy, we have concern that this number will continue to grow if the current situation does not change. The Clifton neighborhood has been negatively impacted by families moving out of the neighborhood and potential buyers deciding against moving here, as described by the realtor who sells more homes in Clifton than any other (see Attachment D ). We have collected other personal accounts giving insight into why many do not choose the Clifton neighborhood or choose to utilize vouchers or charter schools instead of public education (see Attachment E letter 2 and Attachment E letter 1).
B. Coordination with Neighborhood Groups to Identify a Solution
The Education Committee has engaged with representatives of the CCAC to form the “Working Group,” which is comprised of Fairview parents, and representatives of the CCAC, CTM, CUF Council and Spring Grove Village Council. This group has met regularly toward the goal of identifying positive solutions for our neighborhood. Together, we hope to achieve a two-building solution to gaining school access and maintaining the CCAC as a neighborhood asset. (see Attachment F Signed Joint Statement of Spring Grove Village, CUF and Clifton). As outlined in Attachment J, members of both the Working Group and the CTM Education Committee have identified and visited potential sites. Potential spaces for a permanent location are listed in Attachment J.
C. Community Engagement
Our group’s effort follows a detailed community engagement plan (as seen in Attachment G). Pursuant to this plan, we are continuing to implement many outreach activities, including community forums, door to door contact with neighbors, engagement at public events, contact with neighborhood day care and preschool facilities, identifying supporters to sign petitions and intent to enroll forms, social media advertising, mailings, visits to community groups, businesses and organizations, and play groups for families with young children. The community forums and door to door efforts have resulted in positive community feedback for starting a new school. Additionally, we have identified a growing number of supporters through a petition with 261 current signatures and enrollment forms with 38 current
potential students for a new neighborhood school (see Attachment H). Summaries from all 6 community forums in which this group has participated are described in Attachment I. Considering the connections with potential new families ready to attend the proposed neighborhood school together with a formal commitment from CPS, we expect to gather further support enabling a strong start. In addition, we are optimistic about potential Uptown community partners working with us and being a big part of the school’s success once the project has a CPS commitment.
D. Data Collection and Analysis
The Education Committee has collected and analyzed data that demonstrates the potential for our neighborhoods to have a unique and successful neighborhood school. Through our community engagement efforts, we have learned that racial, religious and economic diversity is a priority for a new school environment. We have completed extensive research of the old Clifton School and found that this school did include both racial and economic diversity (see Attachment K Cincinnati Magazine Aug 1975-Clifton and Attachment K Cincinnati Magazine Aug 1975-Clifton-school excerpts) into the 70’s and beyond, and that current data (see Attachment L) shows that diversity does exist in our neighborhoods’ population. We welcome and are open to having boundary lines for the new school that are parallel to old lines which included areas of Avondale (see Attachment M) in addition to the neighborhoods of CUF and Spring Grove Village. We have been working together with both CUF and Spring Grove Village since January of 2016 and look forward to engaging Avondale in addition to Rockdale in relevant conversations moving forward.
E. Proposed Solution
The CTM Education Committee proposes both a short-term and long-term plan for creating a new, successful neighborhood elementary school in the Clifton area. We are eager to form an Advisory Steering Committee and partner with CPS for the purpose of working to finalize a temporary and, in time, a permanent location for a new school. In addition to location, we are ready to work with CPS to initiate programming planning and to establish beneficial partnerships. The CTM Education Committee believes it is important to offer a new opportunity to those who are now in the position of having to decide on public vs. private education. Opening both a preschool classroom along with a KG class this Fall (’17-’18) at Rising Stars Academy on Vine Street would meet an immediate need in the Clifton area and provide additional preschool slots for CPS. Growth of the new elementary school could then be executed by adding a grade each year and consequently would not disrupt other existing schools in the area.
Thank you for your consideration of our plans and we hope to work closely together soon.
Clifton Town Meeting Education Committee
At a public meeting held by Ludlow 21 LLC on January 19 at the Clifton Rec Center, members of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) presented the final report and conclusions from the study which began in March 2016. This study was supported through a grant from Uptown Consortium. The purpose of the TAP was to generate ideas for the redevelopment of the Clifton Merchant Parking Lot, a 1.4 acre site along Ormond and Howell Ave. The discussion focused on identifying the best, most feasible use of the site that at the same time would mesh with the fabric of the existing Clifton Gaslight district.
Everyone should note the report is focused on concepts and possibilities, not final designs and plans. Important stakeholders attended a meeting with the TAP members: Clifton Town Meeting Trustees, Clifton Market Board Members, Clifton Business & Professional Association Officers and members, City of Cincinnati administration, and Uptown Consortium.
The full report is at this link – Final ULI Clifton Merchant Lot TAP Jan 9 2017.
At the January 9, CTM Board meeting, the team that produced CliftonFest 2016 made a report on the event. The entire slide show is attached for your review –
CliftonFest 2016 Summary Report. The conclusion was the event was a great success, and the entire business district saw benefits. The event will move to the new date slot of Fri, Oct 6 evening through all day Sat, Oct 7 for 2017 and beyond.
Deer Project: Year 2
The Clifton deer sterilization project ended its second year of field operations on January 19th with ten new does sterilized, bringing our total to 51, and a bunch of soggy volunteers.
Three nights of operations were originally scheduled for early December but had to be postponed to mid-January because a bumper crop of acorns—deer’s favorite food—reduced the draw of the corn baited sites where darters planned to capture remaining untagged does. A fourth night was added when rain twice forced early termination of activities (unconscious deer are at higher risk of hypothermia when they get wet). Mother Nature rules!
A second year field camera population survey is now underway and will soon provide the first empirical data on migration patterns and population numbers and characteristics. One thing we already know is that 41 sterilized does this year did not add new fawns to the population. We also know that all of last year’s tagged does have been seen over the last year in locations close to where they were first darted allowing cautious optimism that the premise of the program and the hypothesis of the study—that does tend to stay in one area, could prove to be true. Close study of the camera photos will also help determine how many new does might have moved into the area.
In addition to the local news coverage you might have seen, the Discovery Channel was here this year filming and interviewing for a national program. Media interest is a good news/bad news situation. While we’re glad and even eager to share what we’re doing and learning, additional observers add more moving parts to an already intense and complex operation. Fortunately, all reporters have been understanding and cooperative for which we sincerely thank them.
Costs of operations this year were around $20,000, about half of last year’s. New volunteer veterinarian surgeons were trained, as was a capture specialist, providing progress toward the goal of developing local expertise that might one day take over the jobs now performed by consultants and greatly reduce ongoing program costs. In the meantime, we are very grateful to the Animal Welfare Institute, The Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a KeyBank Trust, our friend Karyn who gave up her house for a week to the out of town consultants, and to our friends and neighbors whose donations made this year’s work possible.
Finally, observations from neighbors are still valuable. Reports of tagged deer seen outside the study area (bounded by Clifton Ave, I-75, and Ludlow Ave.) are particularly important. Sightings of tagged deer inside the study area, especially of the newly sterilized does–#42 through #52, help us monitor the health and condition of our sterilized animals. And reports of untagged does within the area will help us locate the remaining unsterilized does next year (though bucks are now dropping their antlers making them and young antlerless bucks hard to distinguish from does). Sightings can be reported on the cliftondeer.org website at “report tagged deer.”
It is a pretty good bet that any time you see Doe #24, aged 4.5 years, Doe #23, aged 3.5 years, isn’t far behind. The twosome was spayed together in December 2015 and their bond remains strong to this day. Photo credit: Mark Easterling
Welcome to 2017! We recommend you bookmark this post as below are some key information about Clifton Town Meeting for your use.
Clifton Town Meeting (CTM) has a Board of 15 Trustees. The organization has a set of bylaws that governs its operation and action. http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CTM-Bylaws-Revised-Dec-2015.pdf
Your Trustees for 2017 are as follows:
Eric Urbas – President
Cindy Oakenfull – Vice President 1
Malcolm Montgomery – Vice President 2
Ashley Fritz – Secretary
Shaun McCance – Treasurer
There are many ways to interact, engage, volunteer, and communicate with CTM.
In person options
We have monthly Board meetings. The schedule is set every January at the first Board meeting of the year. Generally, the meetings are on the first Monday of the month from 7-9pm at the Clifton Recreation Center. Exact dates will be posted on the Clifton Community Calendar website page.
You can speak at these meetings on a specific topic or at the end of the meeting. Community members should sign up to speak on an agenda item before the start of the meeting. Not all agenda items will have time reserved for public input. Individual input on agenda items will be no more than two minutes. Community members are able to speak on non-agenda issues during the public questions and concerns agenda item. Individuals with statements are asked to sign in before the start of the meeting. Statements will be no more than three minutes during the questions and concerns agenda item.
Our Committees are always seeking volunteers for specific activities or for longer term participating on the work of the Committee. Your involvement, be it big or small, is welcome and desired.
Events CTM produces or co-sponsors annually:
•Memorial Day Parade & Cook Out
•Holidays on Ludlow
The Clifton House Tour is held every 3 years on Mother’s Day. Next Tour is 2018. Planning always starts in the year prior to the event.
2017 Event Captains
Event – Captain
House Tour – Adam Balz
Memorial Day Parade/Cookout – Nicholas Hollan
Clifton Fest Booth – Joyce Rich
Golf Outing – Eric Urbas
Lantern Walk – Adam Balz
Holidays on Ludlow – Joyce Rich
All events are more successful when we have volunteers from the community to participate in planning or on the day of the event.
Committees and Chairpersons for 2017
Committee – Chairperson
Beautification – Adam Balz
Business – Peter Block
Chronicle – Ashley Fritz
Website / Social Media – Shaun McCance
Membership – Kevin Marsh
Housing and Zoning – Christine Celsor
Nominating – Ashley Fritz
Public Safety – Kevin Marsh
Clifton Community LLC – Eric Urbas & Shaun McCance
Transportation – Seth Maney
Parks – Rama Kasturi
Education – Nicholas Hollan
Ad Hoc Committees
Fundraising – Brad Hawse
By-Laws – Malcolm Montgomery
Save the CCAC – Malcolm Montgomery
Uptown / NOU – Joyce Rich
Invest In Neighborhoods – Shaun McCance
TriHealth – Brad Hawse
Clifton Community Fun – Eric Urbas
CPBA – Peter Block
Ludlow 21 – Joyce Rich
Clifton Market – Rama Kasturi
UC Health – Brad Hawse
Some of our Committees hold public engagement / discussion meetings to gather input on specific topics. These are announced in advance by email and put onto social media channels.
Emails to CTM
CTM has multiple emails that you can use to convey information, concerns, questions, etc:
•Our primary email is contactctm@Cliftoncommunity.org. This email is monitored daily. Your email is forwarded to the most appropriate person or Committee for response. When in doubt, use this email for all purposes.
•Financial matter to address with our Treasurer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
•Matters dealing with Housing & Zoning, you can email the Committee directly at email@example.com
•Matters related to the Education Committee, you can email the Committee Chair directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
•Submit an article / photo for the Clifton Chronicle or wish to place an ad, you can email email@example.com
Emails from CTM
CTM has a subscriber, opt-in, email list that is used to send information & announcements related to Clifton. We never sell or share this list, and we do not email you constantly. 3-5 emails a month including the monthly CTM meeting agenda. You can opt-in at this link: http://eepurl.com/bemMm5
The Education Committee has has a subscriber, opt-in, email list that is in use for topics related only to guaranteed access to quality education and the current effort to create a neighborhood area public school. We never share or sell this list, and we do not email you constantly. You can opt-in a this link: http://eepurl.com/bR8pAn
Clifton Community Website
CTM maintains the Clifton Community website at http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/ This website contains a variety of news, calendar, public safety links, prior CTM meeting minutes, Clifton Chronicle issues, links to institutions & businesses in Clifton, and much more. There are links on the website to submit questions / concerns directly to CTM.
The Clifton Community Calendar has a moderated submission link that you can use to create entries for community events on the calendar. http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/calendar/
CTM operates various social media accounts:
•Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/CliftonTownMeeting
•Twitter account – https://twitter.com/cliftontownmeet @cliftontownmeet
•NextDoor Clifton account – https://clifton.nextdoor.com/login
•The Education Committee has a Facebook Group called “Citizens For Clifton Area Neighborhood School” https://www.facebook.com/groups/1165996130112593/
Social media “likes”, shares & retweets do not imply Board positions or agreement. We like to promote Clifton related events for the good of the community.
We accept mail at PO Box 20042, Cincinnati, OH 45220. This is the slowest way to contact us.
Our organization is always seeking the financial support of the community through a variety of membership options. You can start or renew a membership online at http://www.cliftoncommunity.org/products-page/membership/ We run a more detailed membership drive effort each year as well describing the benefits of being a member.
Thank you. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you.
From the City of Cincinnati Budget Office, Department of City Planning, and Office of Communications
Hello Cincinnati Neighbor,
Each biennial budget cycle, the City of Cincinnati asks for your feedback on the proposed city budget. We continue to offer new and convenient ways to stay engaged with the community and broaden our outreach. The Budget Office, The Department of City Planning, and Office of Communications have collaborated to further enhance communication and engagement strategies throughout the budget process. The main goal of this budget engagement campaign is to keep you informed and engaged throughout the entire process.
Here are the multiple opportunities to participate in the budget engagement process:
Please visit our website (http://cincinnati-oh.gov/finance/cincinnati-budget-engagement/) where you will find all of these links and more information about when and where the sessions and forums are taking place this summer and fall.
We welcome and greatly appreciate your feedback. Please feel free to pass the word along to your neighbors as everyone’s input is important!
City of Cincinnati Budget Office, Department of City Planning, and Office of Communications