Good morning all. Here’s what’s up in the news today.
Could downtown get a grocery store? It’s looking more like a possibility after the Greater Metropolitan Housing Authority’s board voted yesterday to negotiate a potential partnership to redevelop a former CMHA office building on Central Parkway between Race and Vine streets. The developers, Kingsley + Co. and Anchor Properties, envision a $28 million project featuring a 40,000-square-foot grocery store and other retail space, a four-level parking garage above that and three floors of office space. The Kingsley/Anchor project will be at least 51 percent minority-owned, according to its proposal to the housing agency. CMHA says it has moved operations to Western Avenue in the West End, no longer uses the building on Central Parkway and is looking to find ways to have it generate revenue it can use to redevelop affordable housing around the city. Leadership with the housing authority says putting affordable housing on the site would require zoning changes and is not requiring such housing in proposals from developers. The neighborhood around the site has lost 73 percent of its affordable housing since 2002, according to a recent report.
• This is cool news: A large foundation and a group of 50 donors have stepped up to fund admissions to Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center downtown for the next three years. The Johnson Foundation pitched in $75,000, and the donor group, called The 50, each put in $3,000 to raise another $150,000. Those who paid for memberships to the museum will now get exclusive discounts and free admission to some of the museum’s special programs and events, but the museum itself will be free for all to attend.
• If you read this spot regularly, you remember I told you about Peter Santilli, the conservative online radio personality from Cincinnati who went to Oregon to join the militia occupation of the federal Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Well, Santilli has gone and gotten himself arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on felony charges there. Anti-government protesters, including Nevada rancher and militia leader Ammon Bundy, have led that protest, which began shortly after the new year. Bundy and four other militia members were also arrested yesterday in an earlier incident with the FBI that resulted in the death of a sixth protester after a shoot-out with authorities. Few details have been released about that incident, including who fired first and what led to the confrontation.
• Ohioans like booze, if you didn’t already know. And 2015 was a record year for the sale of the stuff, apparently, with residents in the Buckeye State spending more than $1 billion on liquor last year. We apparently have a particular soft spot for whiskey. Among the most popular spirits: Jack Daniels, which sold more than 379,000 gallons here, and Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey and Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, which both sold nearly 300,000 gallons.
• Finally, let’s go to our neighbors to the west for some uh… pretty interesting comments from an Indiana lawmaker. Woody Burton, a Republican state rep. from Whiteland, invoked convicted child pornographer and former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle, psychopathic killers and individuals with weight issues when fielding questions about proposed legislation that would expand civil rights for LGBT Hoosiers during a town hall meeting. Burton argued that a person’s LGBT status is “behavioral” in the same way and shouldn’t be protected by the law for that reason.
“If I pass a law that says transgenders [sic] and homosexuals are covered under the civil rights laws, then does it say anywhere that fat white people are covered?” he said, reflecting that he has been picked on in the past for his weight. Yikes. Hundreds of academic studies over the years have led the American Psychological Association and other experts to deem LGBT status part of the normal spectrum of human experience, and there is evidence that gender expression and sexual preference is genetic.
Anyway, I’m out. Hit me on that Tweeter thing or via good old fashioned email.
Options for housing in one of Cincinnati’s most popular neighborhoods are becoming more diverse but also less affordable for the city’s lowest-income renters, a new study shows.
Xavier University’s Community Building Institute on Jan. 25 released a housing inventory commissioned by the Over-the-Rhine Community Council of the housing stock in the quickly developing neighborhood.
The study, which uses Census data from 2000, found that the most affordable housing (units costing about $400 for a one bedroom) had decreased by 73 percent, going from 3,235 units in 2000 to just 869 in 2015. After that decrease, such affordable housing now accounts for about 22 percent of the neighborhood’s housing stock.
The study also found that since 2000, the number of occupied housing units in the neighborhood had increased and that many of those units — some 70 percent — were affordable to people making less than the area median income of about $71,000 for a family of four.
Community council members say the study’s finding of plentiful middle class housing and remaining subsidized units demonstrates that OTR is inclusive.
“This shows that we are still very diverse,” OTR Community Council President Rylan Messer told WCPO. “But the big question is, what are the next 10 to 20 years going to look like now that we have this data? If we wake up 20 years from now, and this is a predominately Caucasian, upper-middle class neighborhood, we will have failed miserably. ”
Other community council members, as well as Liz Blume, director of study authors CBI, echoed the sentiment that the neighborhood has housing stock for a diverse group of residents.
Some of the lowest-cost units gone from OTR belonged to Hart Realty, run by former affordable housing magnate Thomas Denhart. In 2001, following the civil unrest in OTR and changes to the way the Department of Housing and Urban Development assessed fair market rents for Section 8 buildings, Denhart declared bankruptcy and got rid of properties containing about 1,000 of the 1,600 affordable units he controlled. But Hart's bankruptcy in and of itself didn't eliminate all those units from the neighborhood's supply of lowest-income housing. Reports from the time show that some of Denhart's properties sold quickly and that between 60 and 70 percent of those units stayed occupied for some time after the bankruptcy, often with HUD tenants. It's hard to know how many low-income tenants eventually trickled out of OTR due to the bankruptcy, but it's far less than the 2,356 low-income units CBI found the neighborhood lost in the last decade and a half.
Questions around the large drop in the neighborhood's most affordable housing remain, and some residents say the change has been difficult. Angela Merritt, who works with Over-the-Rhine Community Housing and lives in affordable housing on East Clifton Avenue, says the shifts she’s seen in the neighborhood over the last decade have taken some adjustment and that OTR’s transformation could be more equitable.
“It’s just about making the change for everyone,” she says. “I don’t think it’s for everyone, and it should be.”
Over the summer, CityBeat shared the story of residents who have had to leave the neighborhood due to rising prices and new development.
OTR has seen rapid change in the past decade, mostly through the efforts of the Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, founded in 2003 by then-mayor Charlie Luken and city business leaders. At the time, there were more vacant buildings in the neighborhood and much of the housing there was affordable, much of it subsidized for low-income residents.
3CDC has poured almost $1 billion of public and private money into OTR, including an expansive remodeling of Washington Park and intensive residential and commercial development efforts along the southern stretch of Vine Street in what has become known as the Gateway Corridor.
CBI's area median income includes incomes from all over Hamilton County. But the neighborhood's median household income is different. Overall, it's about $15,000 a year, according to Census data, though that number has risen quickly in the southern portions where development has occurred most heavily. In the tract containing southern Vine Street, median income is nearly $40,000 a year. In the northern Census tracts, it remains around $10,000 a year.
The southern section of OTR has seen the biggest shift in housing. According to the CBI study, more than half of the housing stock in the area around Vine and Main streets south of Liberty Street is affordable only to those making more than 60 percent of the area median income, or about $43,000 a year.
Those changes are now moving north of Liberty Street as well, the study suggests, though those areas still have a majority of housing affordable to people who make under 60 percent of the area median income. More change is headed for the area north of Liberty Street as development springs up around Findlay Market, Rothenberg Elementary and other locations.
New shifts in housing aren’t just about numbers, some who live in the neighborhood say, but also about the way the neighborhood feels and how newcomers and long-time residents interact.
“It’s all about how humble you are,” says Merritt, who lives north of Liberty Street, of newer residents. “It’s been somewhat of an adjustment because the lower-income people feel like new people are trying to take over. But we all need to learn how to deal with each other, no matter what class you are.”
Good morning, Cincinnati! Here's your daily round-up of headlines:
At a Monday evening meeting of the Hamilton County Improvement District, city and county officials agreed that fixing the troubled Western Hills Viaduct is beyond their budgets. The bridge connecting the city to the West Side is in bad need of replacement and will cost a hefty $280 million, according to plans developed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. What's also unclear is whether the city of Cincinnati or Hamilton County actually owns the structure, and so far the two are tacking the issue together. At the meeting, Mayor John Cranley suggested using federal freight money that the commuter bridge could qualify for if it has a freight component to it and said he believes urban cities and counties are not getting their share of state and federal transportation funds. Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune agreed with the mayor and said he hopes to have a potential funding source for the project next week.
• A report released late Monday night found more than 2,300 units of low-income housing have been lost in Over-The-Rhine since 2002. The report was commissioned by the OTR Community Council to figure out how much the neighborhood has changed since the most recent push for revitalization. It was conducted by Xavier University’s Community Building Institute. The report also found that more than 70 percent of the housing was still for households earning less than $71,200, the region's median income and that about 39 percent of the occupied units were subsidized by the government or had income-restricted rents.
• Is Flint's water problem heading to Ohio? In the town of Sebring, Ohio, located 60 miles south of Cleveland, tests have shown levels of lead and copper in the water so high that officials closed schools on Monday for further testing. Officials also issued a warning to some of the town's 4,000 residents last Thursday night advising children and pregnant women to avoid drinking the water. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency told a local news station that smaller, older distribution lines with lead pipes were the culprit and that they are working with the city to clear up the issue.
• In a turn of events for Planned Parenthood, a grand jury in Houston cleared the health clinic and abortion provider accused of mishandling and profiting off of fetal tissue in its clinics of any wrongdoing. Instead, it indicted the two pro-life activist who made the video footage that landed Planned Parenthood in trouble with Republican lawmakers across the U.S. in the first place. The grand jury indicted Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleidan on charges of tampering with a governmental record and attempting to purchase human organs and also charged activist Sandra Merritt with tampering with a governmental record after the two posed as employees of a medical research company trying to buy fetal tissue and secretly filmed a meeting with Planned Parenthood representatives.
The city of Cincinnati could soon seize seven buildings in Over-the-Rhine and one in Avondale if the owner doesn't make costly repairs by March 15. Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Jerome Metz declared the eight buildings "public nuisances" after previously requesting that the buildings' owner, Washington, D.C.-based 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, repair 11 of its buildings by Dec. 17 of last year. The developer has since repaired three of the buildings to meet the approval of city inspectors, but city officials argue the rest of the structures still contribute to neighborhood blight and pose safety hazards for the public and firefighters. The seven buildings located in OTR north of Liberty Street.
• Also in need of repairs: Cincinnati's parks. What do they need exactly? Well, they have years of deferred maintenance, but the Cincinnati Parks Board has been very slow to produce a detailed account of the state of the city's parks and the price of all the repairs required. City Council appears ready to approve an additional $4 million for repairs, but it's unclear what repairs the money would be going toward. Park leaders say it's too small of an amount to repair some of the parks in the worst shape, but they're also not just going to hang onto the money to do fund a series of projects. Meanwhile, Mayor John Cranley and advocates for the failed parks levy in November are still sore from their election loss. Cranley has claimed the $55 million that would have come from the levy could have covered all the deferred maintenance in the city's parks.
• Errors the city has made in calculating estate tax payments will cost it more than a half-million dollars. The office of Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes has discovered the city owes $614,514 in tax payments to the county. David Nurre, the auditor's assistant financial director, said in a letter to the city that the money will be subtracted from property tax money the county owes the city. The loss will add to the estimated $13 million deficit the city is facing for fiscal year 2017.
• A analysis of the report card data released by the Ohio Education Policy Institute last week by consultant Howard Fleeter found big differences between college- and career-readiness for low-income and high-income districts. It discovered more than a 23-point percentage gap for four-year graduation rates between districts whose economically disadvantaged students made up less than 10 percent of the population and those whose disadvantaged populations were 90 percent or higher. The analysis was requested by the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials.
• I haven't seen the Oscar-nominated Carol yet, but I know Cincy's super excited about it because it was filmed here. Apparently, the city could see more celebrities like Cate Blanchett show up as the city works hard to attract filmmakers. A University of Cincinnati Economics Center study estimates that the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission has generated more than $54 million for the metro area's economy and created 8,800 jobs. The study also found that productions in 2014 and 2015 received $11.8 million in tax credits, footed by taxpayers.
After a series of attacks against against Bernie Sanders have seemingly backfired, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has begun to backpedal and soften their defensive rhetoric against the 74-year-old Vermont senator.
Like attacking GOP front-runner Donald Trump, attacks against Sanders seemingly makes him stronger. Clinton allies likely were not happy this week after Chelsea Clinton told a crowd in New Hampshire that Sanders would “dismantle Obamacare.”
She also told the crowd of potential primary voters Sanders would “strip millions and millions and millions of people of their health insurance.”
Sanders’ campaign spokesman released a statement crediting Chelsea’s political combat on Bernie’s healthcare agenda as raising $1.4 million for the campaign.
“Thanks, Team Clinton…We’ve gotten 47,000 contributions. We’re projecting 60,000 donations. Even for our people-powered campaign, this is pretty darn impressive.”
At a meeting with potential caucus goers in Iowa yesterday, Clinton softened her fight against the democratic socialist, “Sen. Sanders and I share many of the same goals. I know Sen. Sanders cares about covering more people, as I do.”
Clinton added that Sanders' plans aren’t within the realms of reality as she urges Democrats to choose her practicality over his idealism. Since the last debate, Clinton has seemingly let go of the liberal crowd and has focused on appealing to voters with centrist politics and practicality.
“Sen. Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years — he’s
introduced his healthcare plan nine times,” Clinton said. “But he never got
even a single vote in the House, or a single Senate co-sponsored. Now he has a
new plan. You hear a promise to build a whole new system, but that’s not what
you’ll get. You’ll get gridlock. And endless wait for advancements that will
never come. The people I’ve met can’t wait.”
Politico reported Bill Clinton is getting more concerned over his wife’s
campaign in Ohio and Super Tuesday states. Hillary Clinton reportedly has no
campaign staff on the ground in Ohio and virtually no presence in other states
beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sanders on the other hand has been speaking across the country, gathering thousands of supporters at rally in places most people wouldn’t associate as supportive of a self-described socialist like Alabama and Arkansas. However, the Vermont senator has only made one appearance in Ohio so far.
His grassroots insurgency have been aggressive in Ohio ever since the Vermont senator announced his candidacy. Last summer, a local Sanders organization event drew in so many people the media assumed the senator would be in attendance himself.
More than 600
organizers and supporters gathered at the Woodward Theater; the high attendance
confused The Cincinnati Enquirer and The Rachel Maddow Show, which misreported that the senator would be at the event in person.
The Ohio primary is March 15.
The latest polling averages done by Real Clear Politics continue to show the trend of Sanders gaining on the former Secretary of State with her lead falling in early primary states. A CNN poll released Thursday shows Sanders eight points ahead of Clinton in Iowa. A Quinnipiac poll shows Sanders five points ahead in the Hawkeye state.
Real Clear Politics’ national averaging shows Clinton still leading at 51.2 points and Sanders holding second at 38. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley brings up the rear at 2.2. However, O’Malley did not qualify for the Ohio ballot.
Good morning all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news today before we’re all buried in snow, or at least tweets about snow.
The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday ruled that suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge Tracie Hunter can avoid jail for now as she continues to appeal her 2014 felony conviction. Meanwhile, a state lawmaker has called for an investigation into evidence that has disappeared related to other charges Hunter faced. Hunter was charged with nine felonies in her original case, including counts relating to accusations of forgery, misuse of a county credit card and improperly intervening on behalf of her brother, a county juvenile court employee charged with hitting an inmate. A jury convicted her on that last charged and she was sentenced to six months in jail in December 2014. A special prosecutor with the county recently dropped the other eight charges, but revelations that some computer evidence integral to those charges has been destroyed has prompted State Sen. Cecil Thomas, an outspoken Hunter supporter, to call for an investigation into the fate of that evidence. Hunter was due in jail at the beginning of this year, but will now stay free as she continues to fight to overturn her conviction.
• After a study commissioned by Cincinnati officials last year found huge disparities in the number of city contracts awarded to minority and women-owned businesses, the city is ramping up efforts to bring more equity to its procurement process. The study found about 2 percent of construction contracts from the city were awarded to women-owned businesses and only 1 percent to black-owned businesses, for example, even though women own 13 percent of construction companies and blacks own 21 percent. Now, the city is taking a number of steps to make it easier for those businesses to compete for and win city contracts. Officials held an information day Jan. 20 where business owners could find out more about how to get certified with the city and state so they can bid for so-called Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise contracts. The city will hold another set of sessions Jan. 26 where businesses who sign up by calling 513-352-144 can fill out their certification paperwork in about an hour. The city’s new Department of Economic Inclusion says it has already certified about 100 MBEs and WBEs.
• A Hamilton County Court judge will soon decide whether the confession of a man charged with killing a transgender woman in Walnut Hills is admissible in court. Defense attorneys for Quamar Edwards say he has a long history of learning issues and substance abuse problems and that he was under the influence of marijuana when he confessed to killing Tiffany Edwards (to whom he is not related) a year and a half ago. Edwards’ attorneys have had him examined by two psychologists who have found him fit to stand trial, but they would like his confession, in which he details shooting the transgender woman on a remote street in Walnut Hills because “he felt threatened” thrown out as evidence.
Quamar Edwards said he picked up Tiffany Edwards, who he says he knew to be a sex worker, because she needed a ride. He decided to pay her for sex, but then changed his mind. At that point, he said, she became agitated and a fight ensued, during which he shot her. He later turned himself in for the shooting after he was identified on video footage. Sex workers, especially those who are transgender, are often vulnerable to violence and even murder at the hands of johns, and activists have cited Tiffany Edwards’ murder, along with other murdered transgender people in Cincinnati, as evidence of that vulnerability.
• There has been a lot of controversy around the idea of expanding Cincinnati’s coming streetcar north into Uptown. But the transit project’s first big expansion could actually go south if a group in Northern Kentucky gets its way. The Northern Kentucky Streetcar Committee is hoping to raise money to get a feasibility study on expanding the streetcar, which is currently set to run a 3.6-mile loop through Over-the-Rhine and downtown, across the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Newport and Covington. The group has been looking at the idea for the past year and a half, according to member and NKY businessman Ian Budd. The committee, which also includes Newport City Commissioner Beth Fennell, will soon ask the federal government for $300,000 for the feasibility study. If no grants are available from federal sources, Budd says the group will turn to private funding sources to get the ball rolling.
• Here's a short and disturbing story from our neighbors just to the north. We’ve talked a lot about the racial dimensions of childhood poverty and infant mortality in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, but we’re not alone in the struggle against those issues. A new report shows that black infants are twice as likely to die as white infants in Butler County, which contains the cities of Hamilton and Middletown as well as suburbs like West Chester. This article explores reasons why that is.
• Finally, let’s zoom way out. What are the greatest threats to the world in the coming decade, according to experts from around the globe? Pew Research Center polled a group of 700 academics, policy wonks and others, who said involuntary mass migration such as the Syrian refugee crisis and climate change were the biggest issues facing the planet in the coming years. Check out this piece for the fascinating, if totally depressing, trends driving those predictions.
I’m out! Hit me on Twitter, email, etc. to give me news tips or challenge me to a snowball fight.
Good morning, Cincy! Here are your morning headlines.
Eight of the nine City Council members have signed a motion to go forward with the purchase of four miles of railway needed for the Wasson Way trail project. The city has a $12 million purchase agreement with Norfolk Southern Railroad that is set to expire in July and will face additional fees if the deal is not closed by then. The only setback now for the trail project? Well, the city has to come up with the money for the purchase as well an additional $19 to $23 million to build all for sections of the trail from Montgomery Road to Wooster Pike. The project faced financial setbacks before, when the city was turned town for federal TIGER grant money. But it recently received $500,000 from a state grant and has applied for an additional $4.5 million in state capital funding for the project.
• There's more bickering at City Hall between Mayor John Cranley and some of the Democratic council members. According to emails obtained by The Enquirer through a public information request, tensions between council members Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young and the mayor have gotten so bad, the three declined Cranley's invitation for weekly meetings. Seelbach wrote in an email that, "It has to do with you treating people like shit," which was used in the the Enquirer's original headline for its article on the squabble. Apparently, they changed it shortly after to something more PG-rated, but not before the Business Courier manage to screen cap it.
• Cincinnati's grocery giant Kroger ranks third largest in the world, according to the National Retail Federation. It fell just behind Walmart and Costco and has moved up from its spot at on the list at No. 6 last year. Another Cincinnati giant, Macy's, was ranked at No. 35. National Retail Federation used 2014 fiscal year sales to compile its list of the top 50 retailers.
• Tenants at a South Cumminsville apartment complex say they are living in an unsafe environment that their landlord refuses to do anything about. Residents of Garfield Commons on Elmore Street say there's constant fighting and shootings around the building as well as issues with mold, fallen bricks and heroin users in the parking lot. One resident says she doesn't feel like she's living in a secure building that's guaranteed as part of her Section 8 housing benefits and that the building manager never answers his phone.
Good morning all. It’s snowing. Did you notice? OK. I’ve done my apparent journalistic duty to point out to you that it is precipitating, but that the atmosphere above Cincinnati is cold enough that said precipitation is coming down as a solid, not a liquid. Thought experiment: Are there more snowflakes coming down or pictures of that snow on Twitter from news organizations?
Real news time. Suspended Hamilton County Court Judge Tracie Hunter found out yesterday that she won’t face retrial on eight felony counts. A previous jury couldn’t come to an agreement on those charges, but one in 2014 did convict Hunter of a ninth felony charge related to information she gave her brother, a Hamilton County Juvenile Court employee, as he faced his own charges for punching an inmate. Special prosecutor Scott Croswell III told Hamilton County Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker that retrying Hunter on the other charges would cost too much and cause further unnecessary acrimony here. Croswell said the state is satisfied with the count Hunter was convicted on. Since her conviction, Hunter has lost her law license and been suspended from the bench. She was sentenced in Dec. 2014 to six months in jail and a year of probation for the charges.
• Cincinnati will host a big-name startup convention this October, organizers announced yesterday. Colorado-based TechStars and locals Cintrifuse will host FounderCon from Oct. 18-20. In the past, the conference has visited major cities like Austin and Chicago and is expected to draw more than 1,000 corporate leaders and tech startup founders. The event looks to be another boost for the city’s startup economy. Startups in the city have raised more than $170 million in funding in the past few years, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.
• Another round of condos is coming to Over-the-Rhine. 3CDC has listed 36 new condos for sale ranging in price from $145,000 to $650,000 in the area around Race, Elm and Main streets and other locations. The new developments, three of which are already under contract to be purchased when they are completed, join another 54 3CDC has brought to the neighborhood in the past year and 347 it has developed in OTR since its founding in 2003. In addition to the condos, the developer plans 27 affordable units of apartment housing accompanying 23 condos and 11 townhomes at a new development on 15th and Race streets, though it’s unclear what level of affordability those units will have.
• A little further north, Findlay Market is nearing completion of its incubator kitchen. The kitchen features 8,000 square feet of shared-use space and is designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs launch food-based ventures. The kitchen will be city-licensed, allowing businesses to produce food for sale there. Members will pay $75 a year for access to the kitchen. The space’s 10 kitchens will be accessible 24 hours a day and can be rented by the hour or by the month.
• Normally, going from city to city asking people about pot is the purview of touring musicians. But two Ohio lawmakers will go on a three-city tour soon to listen to residents’ opinions on medical marijuana ahead of possible legislative action on that subject. State Sens. David Burke, a Republican, and Kenny Yuko, a Democrat, will travel to Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati starting Jan. 30 to conduct the listening tour. Yuko has been a medicinal marijuana supporter for more than a decade, while Burke is “skeptical, but wants to listen.” This sounds like an amazing reality show. Yuko says the effort has been sparked by a new willingness among his colleagues in the state house to consider medicinal marijuana. Neither Yuko nor Burke say they support recreational use, however, so touring bands will need to be careful about their own traveling pot inquiries into the foreseeable future.
• Right now there’s a big fight going on in the Ohio legislature around a bill to reform the state’s unemployment benefits program. Lawmakers are working on changes that could reduce the number of weeks unemployed workers are eligible for the benefits from the current 26 weeks to somewhere between 12 and 20 weeks depending on the state’s unemployment rate. That, among many other measures in the bill, has advocates for workers and the poor up in arms.
They point out that unemployment rates vary drastically in different regions of the state, and that someone who lives in a high unemployment area could see their benefits unfairly reduced if the overall state unemployment rate is low. Labor leaders and Democrats in the state house have blasted the changes. The state House Democratic Caucus called the bill the biggest attack on workers since the infamous SB5 legislation enacted at the start of Gov. John Kasich’s first term. That bill sought to limit state employee collective bargaining rights.
Republican lawmakers and many business groups, however, stand by the proposed changes. Currently, Ohio’s unemployment trust fund is insolvent, and conservative lawmakers say their proposed changes are necessary to keep it going. Liberals, however, say the changes proposed by Republicans shield businesses from unemployment taxes at the expense of workers.
• Finally, your daily Kasich update. Ohio’s big queso has moved up a spot in at least one national poll. He’s now sixth in a USA Today poll. Is that sad or good news for Kasich? It’s hard to tell. He was seventh in the same poll last week. He’s ahead of former frontrunner Ben Carson, who has tanked of late. He’s also two spots ahead of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. Sadly, he’s still trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose campaign is widely seen as a disaster. Will Kasich keep climbing? Will he place high in the vital upcoming Iowa and New Hampshire primaries? I’m on the edge of my seat.
This isn’t Trump’s first time running for president. The real-estate tycoon has been gunning for the presidency for 16 years. In 2000, he was seeking the nomination for the Reform Party and qualified for the Michigan and California ballot. Trump won both states. He also used to identify as a Democrat, even going as far as contributing more than $100,000 to Hillary Clinton’s campaign
What’s up with the campaign?
You don’t need to be a political junkie to have heard about Donald Trump. Trump has been at the top of the Republican polls for virtually the entire election. He has been unstoppable.
If this election has shown anything, it’s that Americans are tired of the establishment, politically correct culture and the pre-packaged and focus-grouped candidate that says all the right things. The 69-year-old GOP behemoth hasn’t been a darling of the party. Republicans have been very open about their desperation to get rid of Trump and a brokered convention might even be possible.
This frontrunner has done an incredible job encapsulating and appealing to the anger of Americans and their frustration of the political machine.
Voters might like:
● America has grown tired of political correctness on campuses and in the political arena. Constituents want their politicians to acknowledge that terrorism and human rights abuses are prevalent in Islam and there is a cultural issue within that world. Many folks also want their politicians to use specific language and not beat around the bush with talking points. Donald Trump is brash, and that is a dose of fresh air for a lot of people. We shouldn’t underestimate how attractive unguarded rhetoric is to conservatives who feel increasingly shut out of important conversations.
● Trump is taking a page out of the Bernie Sanders book by not taking big donations, or at least from people expecting something in return. Perhaps that’s not as impressive as the Sanders campaign, considering the huge checking account, but it is still valuable to have a candidate that isn’t a slave to special interests. He also wants to go after hedge fund managers and tax the wealthy. “The hedge fund guys are getting away with murder. They’re making a tremendous amount of money — they have to pay tax,” Trump said in an interview with CNN. If campaign finance is your issue, Trump might be one of the better Republican options.
Harvard Law School professor and (sorta) ex-Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig says a President Trump could be the best thing to happen in the fight against campaign finance. Lessig even said he would consider running on Trump’s ticket as a third party.
● Trump is a winner. It has been easy to paint him as a joke candidate, but we wouldn’t be questioning the inevitability of Jeb Bush if he had a huge lead in the national polls in the lead-up to Iowa and New Hampshire.
...But watch out for:
● The New York billionaire has a long history of courting Democrats — even financially supporting Hillary Clinton, who still might be the Democratic nominee. Trump also donated $20,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2006 cycle as opposed to only $1,000 going to the Republican Campaign Committee in the same cycle.
● Not only has he contributed a lot of money to the left over the years, he is arguably the most liberal of the Republican candidates. He supports progressive taxation. He thinks it’s OK for Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding so long as it doesn’t go toward abortions (how it’s currently set up). And he also opposed the invasion of Iraq. Donald Trump was also originally for an assault weapons ban, but flipped-flopped on that for the campaign. It also isn’t clear on whether or not he wants universal background checks for firearms purchases.
● Trump too often values rhetoric over reality. The whole “I’m going to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it” policy point is insanity. Some of the talking points are surgical applause lines and the crazy stuff is what got him to the top of the polls. He seems too addicted to crowd support and appearing strong. Voters would be wise to be weary of how Trump might handle a catastrophe such as a major attack against the United States, a plague or economic collapse. However, it is impossible to know who the real Trump is and who the entertainer is.
Biggest policy proposal:
The GOP frontrunner called for a ban on all Muslim immigration into the U.S. There’s been a lot of debate on whether or not this is constitutional or if the president even has the power to close American borders to a specific group.
Many legal scholars have cited the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which gives the president authority to suspend the entry of any and all aliens deemed “detrimental” to U.S. interests.
Others argue that the ban would violate the First Amendment with freedom of religion and the Fifth Amendment with the right to due process. However, the rebuttal is that if immigrants never get here in the first place, they aren’t entitled to those rights.
The thousands of refugees coming into in Europe and the United States is a complex issue. It’s a humanitarian issue and whether the reason they’re refugees in the first place is American foreign policy is debatable.
However, there’s a reality that these people are coming from
a very volatile area and the background checks are virtually useless. There
have been refugees arrested in the U.S. and Europe already on charges of terror.
Hey hey, all. I hope yesterday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was both uplifting and motivating for you and that you got out to some of the commemorative and educational events that were going on all over town. Now, let’s talk news real quick.
An influential multi-faith organization that has been inactive for years is reforming following recent outbreaks of Islamaphobia around Greater Cincinnati and beyond. The Interreligious Trialogue was first brought together by Chip Harrod, then head of civil rights organization Bridges for a Just Community, following heated anti-Muslim rhetoric that surfaced after Sept. 11. Now, following a number of complaints of harassment from Muslims in Greater Cincinnati as well as national tension caused by anti-Muslim comments from figures like GOP presidential primary contender Donald Trump, the Trialogue is coming back .The group will hold community service events, roundtable discussions and other activities designed to further conversation among people with various religious beliefs and to combat Islamaphobia.
• Members of Samuel DuBose’s family spoke yesterday after a settlement with the University of Cincinnati was announced in the Avondale resident’s police shooting death. The DuBose family says the nearly $5 million settlement isn’t about the money, but about making sure others are safe from such incidents in the future. DuBose’s daughter Reagan Brooks is managing his estate. She and other family members say that among the most important parts of the settlement is the opportunity to sit on UC’s Community Advisory Council, which will hammer out reforms to the university’s police system to ensure that future shootings like the one that took DuBose’s life don’t happen again. The civil settlement should not affect UC officer Ray Tensing’s trial, attorneys on both sides of the criminal case say. Tensing, the officer who shot DuBose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn, was indicted on murder and manslaughter charges last summer. Tensing’s attorney had little comment on the civil settlement, saying only “wow” when asked about it.
• Well, Charlie Hustle might not be getting into Cooperstown any time soon, but the hit king will soon have another Hall of Fame membership to boast about. Former Cincinnati Reds player and manager Pete Rose will be inducted into the Reds’ Hall of Fame in late June, the ball club announced today. Rose has been banned from baseball for 27 years for gambling on the game. There was some hubbub that Rose might be reinstated late last year, but new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated he will not lift his ban. That doesn’t mean Rose won’t enter the MLB Hall of Fame — Manfred begged off that question — but it also doesn’t look likely anytime soon. Rose, now in his 70s, has the most hits of anyone in the history of professional baseball. He’ll be the sole inductee this spring in the Reds’ Hall of Fame.
• A long-time effort to redevelop a set of historic buildings in Walnut Hills is nearing completion. The Trevarren Flats is a $10 million, 30 unit apartment project with 7,000 square feet of commercial space in three century-old buildings on McMillan Street in the neighborhood. Those apartments will be market rate, with studios starting at $500 a month and two bedroom units running up to $1,850 a month. Leaders with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, which worked with developers Model Group to complete the project, say it will be a catalyst for other development in the historically low-income community.
• I grew up in Hamilton just blocks from the hulking Champion Paper factory, and it’s kind of astounding to me that the enormous building is slated to become a sports and entertainment complex. The planned facility will have spaces that can be used for myriad sports, including soccer, football, baseball, ice hockey, softball, lacrosse and more. Much of the facility will be indoors, but outdoor baseball fields will also be offered. Other developments, including housing, could come later at the huge, 42-acre site. Right now, developers are halfway through lining up funding for the project and say it could be open by spring 2018.
• Ohio Gov. John Kasich got more good news out of New Hampshire over the past few days. Kasich has identified the state’s Feb. 9 primary as a make-or-break one for his campaign and has ramped up efforts with more staff and resources there. The efforts seem to be paying off: Kasich jumped from bottom-feeding in the state’s primary polls to tying U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for second behind Donald Trump. Now, Kasich has also netted endorsements from the Nashua Telegraph, Foster’s Daily Democrat and the Portsmouth Herald, which all threw support behind Kasich in the GOP primary contest in their most recent Sunday editions. The papers cited Kasich’s experience in Congress and his pragmatism in their endorsements.
• Finally, a couple cool and completely random science facts floating around the internet for you. First, and most topically, we’re all minding the wind chill measurements in weather reports lately, right? At least I am, because I assumed those readings kept me from getting frost bite on my face when I walk to work. But alas, that number you see in weather reports means almost nothing, according to real weather scientist people. Who knew?
Second, you’ll be able to see five planets from Earth (where I assume you’re reading this from) for the first time in a decade starting Jan. 20. That’s pretty rad. Be sure to get out one of these cold, cold nights to check out Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury. Or, you know, maybe just follow someone on Instagram who has a telescope.
The Flint debate came after presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns agreed to additional debates which were motivated by a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses.
Clinton’s campaign challenged Sanders to an unsanctioned debate on MSNBC at the University of New Hampshire, following their photo-finish race in the Hawkeye State. The DNC officialized the debate, propelling the first time the former secretary of state and the Vermont senator went one-on-one.
Flint’s debate is one of two more debates the Clinton campaign agreed to in exchange for the University of New Hampshire debate.
In the midst of Flint’s water crisis, the town has been at the top of both of the Democratic candidates’ talking points — highlighting what is at stake in this election and what the Democratic party can offer in terms of economic power and regulation.
Sanders went as far to call for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s resignation.
“And I think the governor has got to take the responsibility and say, ‘You know what, my administration was absolutely negligent and a result of that negligence, many children may suffer for the rest of their lives and the right thing to do is to resign,” Sanders said in an interview with The Detroit News.
Sanders further blasted the governor's response to the water crisis during the University of New Hampshire debate, saying, “A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power.” The Vermont senator added that this is the first time he has ever called for the resignation of another politician.Flint was a stop on Clinton’s campaign trail Sunday as she urged Congress to pass a $200 million effort to fix the ailing city’s water infrastructure.
"This has to be a national priority," Clinton said at the House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church. "What happened in Flint is immoral. The children of Flint are just as precious as the children of any part of America."Clinton praised Flint Mayor Karen Weaver as "someone who is working every way she knows how to provide the help and support that all the people of Flint deserve to have." The Flint Water Crisis started in April 2014 after the city changed its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River — the new water source is contaminated with lead, prompting President Obama to declare a state of emergency.
The Flint River’s corrosion is caused by aged pipes that leach lead into the water supply. The EPA estimates thousands of residents are at risk of lead poisoning, and has recommended testing 12,000 children. The water is also possible responsible for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, killing 10 people.The Michigan Army National Guard was deployed to Flint to assist in the crisis and President Obama has allocated $80 million in government aid.
Good morning all. Here’s the news today.
Will Cincinnati and Hamilton County opt to stop working together on the Metropolitan Sewer District? Recent statements by Mayor John Cranley and Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel suggest that the two governments are more CeeLo Green than Al Green right now and that the idea is at least on the table. Since 2014, the two governments have cooperated on MSD, which is owned by the county but run by the city. But things between the city and county haven’t been all that cozy lately, and recent revelations that MSD may have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on contracts without competitive bids haven’t helped matters.
Now officials are at least floating the idea of splitting up — perhaps even dividing MSD’s assets and letting the two governments run separate systems. There are, of course, complications, not the least of which would be the enormous complexity of divvying up one of the county’s largest infrastructure systems serving 800,000 residents. The city says it should be the one solely in charge of MSD, while the county makes a similar claim. Meanwhile, the two governments will have to continue to cooperate on a federal court-ordered $3 billion renovation of the sewer district, no matter what they decide.
• While the above-mentioned $680 million sketchy procurement process was taking place at MSD under former director Tony Parrott, an oversight board that could have put checks on the potential improper spending was fading into the background, The Enquirer reports. That independent oversight board hasn’t operated since 2008, and no records exist of any audits of MSD’s activity from that group. Cincinnati City Councilman Kevin Flynn has been calling for funds and support to beef up that board over the past few months and has renewed his calls for increased oversight ahead of an audit of MSD by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost. The city’s administrative code calls for such an oversight board, though cities aren’t required by law to maintain them. It’s unclear why Cincinnati abandoned its board in 2008 under Mayor Mark Mallory. City officials, including City Manager Harry Black, have said they’re in the process of reviving the board, but that it currently has five vacancies and can’t operate until they’re filled.
• Two neighborhood councils are pushing the city to keep, and expand, the controversial Central Parkway Bikeway, memos to the city reveal. Both Clifton Town Meeting and the Over-the-Rhine Community Council passed resolutions late last month and sent letters to the city administration and City Council asking that the lane be expanded for safety and economic development purposes. You can read more about that in our blog post here.
• Ohio has 10 times the number of failing charter schools as it has previously reported, according to a letter from the state to the federal government. The Department of Education says 57 Ohio charter schools are failing, not six, as the state originally stated. The state also has about half the number of high-performing charters it has recently touted, according to the letter, which was sent as Ohio works to regain access to a $71 million federal school choice grant that the DOE awarded last year and subsequently suspended last November following a charter school data rigging scandal here.
• It’s the big day for Ohio Gov. John Kasich. New Hampshire primary voters head out to the polls today for the country’s first primary (yes, candidates were vying for voter attention in Iowa last week, but that state has a caucus, which is a different system). Kasich has indicated he will drop out of the GOP presidential primary if he doesn’t do well in the state, so we could be talking about the last day of morning news updates on the big queso’s campaign. Heartbreaking.
Kasich is polling well in the state, however, and might finish as high as second place, especially after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, his main rival there, did pretty poorly in this weekend’s GOP debate. Kasich has spent a lot of time focusing on the Granite State, holding more than 100 town hall appearances there. He even beat Trump 3 votes to 2 in tiny Dixville, N.H. Side note: If you want to know how New Hampshire became the first voters in the primary process, this article has all the interesting political history you need.
• Finally, how much has all of Kasich’s traveling around the country with a security entourage cost Ohio taxpayers? Probably a lot. The Associated Press reports that non-highway security expenditures for the Ohio Highway Patrol have gone from $17,000 a year during Kasich’s first year in office to more than $350,000 in 2015. While that segment of highway patrol funding is primarily used for the governor’s security detail, officials with the patrol say other out of state costs are also involved in that number. They also point out that spending categories changed in 2011, so the two numbers might not be an apples to apples comparison. Still, it’s clear that expenditures have gone up during Kasich’s time in office and that taxpayers have footed some of the bill for the extensive traveling he’s done as he runs for the nation’s highest office.
I’m out. Tweet. Email. You know what’s up.
Community councils for two popular Cincinnati neighborhoods are urging the city to expand its bike lane program, which has stalled after the 2014 completion of a major protected lane leading downtown.
Both Clifton Town Meeting and the Over-the-Rhine Community Council passed resolutions last month reiterating support for the sometimes-controversial Central Parkway Bikeway and pushing for expansions to that bike project and others like it.
"Clifton Town Meeting desires to make Clifton into a premier bicycling community within Greater Cincinnati in order to improve the vibrancy, safety and overall health of visitors and residents," a Jan. 20 letter to city administration and Council reads. "To do so requires continued investment in on-street infrastructure such as the Central Parkway Bikeway, bike lanes, sharrows and bicycle-related signage."
That letter goes on to ask that the city not make changes to the bikeway that would deprive cyclists of a dedicated, protected lane.
Over-the-Rhine's community council, led by Ryan Messer, sent a similar message to the city Jan. 28, saying the council strongly supports the lane and hopes to see it extended in the near future. The letter cites successes with similar lanes in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, quoting research and news reports stating that the lanes increase rider safety.
"Experience with the Central Parkway bike lane has been positive," Messer wrote in his letter to the city. "There has not been an impact on traffic and ridership numbers continue to rise. When the bike lane is completed with a projected lane to and from Ludlow [Ave. in Clifton], we expect ridership to grow even more as it provides the connection to Clifton, Northside and Cincinnati State Technical and Community College."
Not all communication to Council was positive about the lanes, however. Councilman Christopher Smitherman presented a letter to Council today from Robert Schwartz that called the lane a "embarrassingly awful" and called for it to be removed. In the letter, dated late December of last year, Schwartz presented a list of 16 reasons why the lane should be removed, including confusion over parking, damaged plastic markers that are "a blight on what used to be a very picturesque street" and an accident that happened in Dec. 2013, before the lane was installed. Schwartz said he feared more such accidents would happen due to the lane.
The Central Parkway Bikeway was completed in 2014 after multiple bouts of political wrangling. The protected bike lane uses plastic partitions to separate cyclists from drivers along the four-lane stretch of the Central Parkway running from Clifton, through the West End and University Heights and into Over-the-Rhine and downtown. The lane was initially proposed in a bike plan Cincinnati City Council passed in 2010, and Council in 2013 voted unanimously to build it using $500,000 in mostly federal money.
But that was before Mayor John Cranley took office. Cranley wanted Council to reconsider the lane, saying he preferred off-street bike paths such as the proposed Wasson Way trail that would go through much of Cincnnati's East Side on the way to Avondale. Council narrowly approved the lane in a 5-4 vote. Then there was contention about parking spaces that had to be ironed out with local business owners.
Even the construction of the lane didn't end the debate. Drivers and some local business owners say the lanes, which require motorists to park in Central Parkway's outside lanes during business hours, make traffic in the area more dangerous. News reports highlighted the fact that some of the plastic dividers along the lane had been run over and that some 33 accidents had happened along Central Parkway since they had been installed. That led Cranley last summer to say he was interested in removing the lanes.
"I've got plans to build dedicated bike trails on Oasis and Wasson Way and Mill Creek," the mayor said last summer, "but those are off the road, dedicated lanes, not in the middle of traffic like Central Parkway, which is a major artery into downtown. I think they should scrap it before somebody gets hurt. I think it's been a disaster and I hope that City Council will reverse course and stop it."
National research, like this 2014 study by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, tends to show that bike lanes increase safety, ridership and neighborhood desirability. The NITC study found that ridership numbers at newly installed lanes in Austin, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Portland, Ore., boosted ridership between 21 and 171 percent, while increasing perceptions of safety and the overall desirability of the neighborhoods they were in for residents and visitors. However, those cities are generally less car-dependent than Cincinnati.
New attention to bike safety has come in the days after the hit-and-run death in Anderson of Michale Prater, who was an active member of the city's cycling community. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld last week introduced a motion asking the city to study particularly dangerous intersections for cyclists and pedestrians and suggest ways of mitigating that danger. Meanwhile, cycling advocates and neighborhood councils continue to push for protected lanes.
"We need and endorse the full usage of roads for cyclists for a full and productive lifestyle, not just for riding on off-road trails," the Clifton Town Meeting letter concludes.
Hillary Clinton (Democratic)
Then-Senator Hillary Clinton had a vodka-drinking contest against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ.) when the two were touring Estonia in 2004, possibly the most legendary drinking story in modern politics.
“We agreed to withdraw, in honorable fashion, having, I think, reached the limits that either of us should have had,” the Democratic frontrunner said in a campaign video. There are unconfirmed reports of Clinton besting Sen. McCain with four shots of vodka, however the former first lady called the game a tie.
What’s up with the campaign?
Until her virtual tie in the Iowa caucus, Clinton’s campaign has been virtually in cruise control. While the former secretary of state may have had to move to the left a bit on some issues with the surprise threat of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), her rhetoric has mostly stayed in the center.
Aside from New Hampshire, Clinton has stayed on top of the polls, raised more money than any other candidate on either side of the aisle and seemingly has the backing of the entire establishment.
Voters might like:
● Clinton has one of the thickest resumes of any presidential candidate in history. Being a first lady is not usually a political job, but she was the first wife of a president to create an office in the West Wing. She led the way for subsidized health care in the ’90s with the Health Security Act, informally called “Hillarycare.”
● She went on to serve as senator of New York from 2001-2009. After losing her bid for the presidency to Barack Obama, she was appointed to secretary of state — giving her a huge advantage on foreign policy over Sanders.
● Some consider Clinton’s centrist policies as a weakness. However, her consistently not falling into liberalism will likely be the key to winning the general election if she earns the Democratic nomination. Clinton is not calling for free college education, a high minimum wage or universal healthcare — considering how far to the right Congress is at this point might lead to her being a successful president in the early years of her first term.
...but what out for
● Clinton spent more than a decade opposing gay rights. The former secretary of state did not support gay marriage until 2013. “I take umbrage at anyone who might suggest that those of us who worry about amending the Constitution are less committed to the sanctity of marriage, or to the fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and a woman,” Clinton said in 2004.
● Most Americans are weary of getting into another war, and the Iraq War is largely considered one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in American history. Clinton was a part of the 58 percent of senate Democrats who voted in favor of the Iraq Resolution, which authorized President George W. Bush’s invasion.
● On both sides of the aisle, career politicians and the establishment have become toxic. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the country that is more establishment or embodies political privilege more than Clinton. The $600,000 she received in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs and millions in corporate donations have raised a lot of eyebrows in this new political climate that is increasingly skeptical of big-money interests.
Biggest policy proposal:
The United States is one of the only developed nations in the world that does not have guaranteed paid family leave. A lot of career jobs offer paid time off, however it is not guaranteed by law — this mostly affects those in low-income jobs. Clinton says she aims to guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid family leave with two-thirds of wages. The campaign claims this will also be accomplished without a mandate on the employer or an increase in payroll tax.
Clinton does not support conventional ground troops conducting combat operations in Iraq or Syria. However, she is in favor of continuing Obama’s air campaign and using Special Operations forces.
The Cincinnati Planning Commission has approved plans for a 131-unit apartment complex downtown. The $52 million complex will be at Eighth and Sycamore streets pending the approval of City Council as early as next week. The parking garage and apartments are part of a larger development plan for the city-owned site, which will also feature up to 10,000 square feet of street-level retail space. The Cincinnati City Center Development Corp., or 3CDC, will build a 500-car parking garage, while Cincy-based North American Properties is in charge of constructing the actual units. If plans are approved, the parking complex could be ready as early as June, but the apartments won't be completed until the second half of 2017 at least.
• Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Over-the-Rhine is calling on community support to help keep its winter shelter open to the homeless through Feb. 29. Rev. John Suguitan says the church is short the funds necessary to keep its doors open through one of the coldest months of the year. The church, which is located on Race Street, has focused on community outreach since 1969 and currently has 45 spots available for homeless individuals to stay overnight.
• A report from Disability Rights Ohio found major issues with the enforcement a 2013 Ohio law limiting the seclusion and restraint of students for the convenience of staff members.The rule requires schools to report such incidents to Ohio's Department of Education. But, according to the report, many instances still go unreported. Under the law, the DOE lacks the authority to force schools to do so and the schools face no punishment for not complying. It also found many schools were also not notifying parents if their child had been restrained or secluded, which is also a requirement of the law.
• Chicago police officer Robert Rialmo, who fatally shot a 19-year-old black man and unarmed bystander in December, is suing the teenager's estate for more than $10 million. The officer claims the Dec. 26 confrontation that lead to the death of teen Quintonio LeGrier, who was holding a baseball bat, and 55-year-old Bettie Jones, caused him "extreme emotional trauma." The shooting is still under investigation.
That investigation didn't find any fetal tissue sales at the organization's Ohio clinics, but DeWine did announce that it appeared as if Planned Parenthood was violating state law by contracting with a company that autoclaved, or steam-treated, fetal tissue and then dumped it in landfills.
However, in an investigation published yesterday by Columbus WBNS-10TV, Lanny Brannock, spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, says intact fetuses were not disposed of in landfills there. What's more, Brannock says Ohio investigators never spoke to anyone at the facilities nor visited them during the course of their investigation.
“It is illegal to landfill any human tissue in Kentucky, and by law it’s required to be incinerated," Brannock said. "We have no knowledge of any human tissue going into Kentucky landfills."
The investigation also shows that the state contracts with the same disposal company, Kentucky-based Accu Medical Waste Services, Inc., to dispose of medical waste. That contract includes state prisons, where inmates occasionally suffer miscarriages.
Morning all. Here’s what’s up in the news today.
Hamilton County Democratic Party’s executive commission last night voted not to censure Ben Lindy, a candidate to replace Denise Driehaus as state representative. But the party also had strong words about a paper Lindy authored that is currently in being used in a legal attack against teachers’ unions. Controversy erupted last week when party leaders found out that the paper, which Lindy wrote while studying at Yale University, is currently being used by anti-union groups in a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court case that could endanger collective bargaining arrangements for labor groups. Lindy says he supports unions and doesn’t agree with the suit. He’s facing other Democrats, including fellow Hyde Park resident Brigid Kelly, in the party’s primary to run for Ohio's District 31 state representative seat.
• I love going to Findlay Market, but like a lot of people, one of the big challenges I have is that I can’t get quite everything I need there. But that could change soon. Owners of current Findlay vendors Fresh Table are planning a new micro-grocery just across from the historic market. In addition to having a lunch counter, the store will feature hygiene items and other products that will help round out Findlay’s offerings. The store aims to serve people of all incomes and should be open by September, according to owners Meredith Trombly and Louis Snowden.
• A recent study shows that Cincinnati ranks favorably among the country’s biggest 100 cities when it comes to prosperity, but that it lags well behind when it comes to extending that prosperity beyond whites. The city ranked 18th in a Brookings Institution study released last week when it came to prosperity, but 81st in racial economic inclusion. We've checked out that study in-depth here.
• A men’s rights group whose leader has in the past advocated for rape legalization has cancelled plans for rallies around the world, including one near Cincinnati. Return of Kings, which was founded by 36-year-old Roosh Valizadeh, had planned numerous get-togethers for its so-called “tribesmen” this Saturday at 8 p.m. across the United States and as far away as Australia. Valizadeh has authored blog posts on the group’s website calling for women to be stripped of the right to vote and for rape to be legalized on private property. Valizadeh cited safety concerns for the cancellations. Feminist activists in Cincinnati called that “ironic,” saying that ROK represented the only threat to peoples’ safety in the area and that the group perpetuates rape culture.
• In the wake of its second student suicide in as many months, Cincinnati Public Schools is expanding its anti-suicide efforts. The push comes as community leaders highlight a crisis in teen suicide in the region, especially in its black communities. CPS has sent home suicide prevention guidelines and resources for parents. Meanwhile, faith leaders and others in those communities are working on long-term strategies to address that crisis.
• Finally, another night, another presidential primary debate. This time it was Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton who tussled. Their past debates have been markedly civil compared to the Republican primary debates’ circus-like atmosphere, but the gloves have finally come off.
That meant lengthy (and annoying) semantic debates about the words “progressive” and “establishment” that mirror similar ideological pissing contests within the Republican Party. Unencumbered by flagging third candidate former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sanders and Clinton were able to really go at it. But sandwiched in between the jabs traded back and forth there was some substance to the discussion.
Clinton came out well ahead on foreign policy, her home turf issue — she was U.S. Secretary of State, after all — with Sanders tripping over whether North Korea had one or multiple dictators. Seriously, man? Sanders, however, seemed to gain an upper hand on domestic issues around the economy, which is really the core of his campaign. He was able to land some substantive blows against Clinton when it came to her support from financial industry bigwigs, calling her out for donations and $100,000 speaking fees she’s received from big banks and other financial institutions. Sanders says should be more regulated by government.
Clinton called those questions an “artful smear” of her campaign, though she balked at promising to release transcripts of paid speeches she gave to those financial institutions, saying only that she would “look into it.” I say “I’ll look into it” when there is no chance in the world I’m going to do whatever it is I’m supposed to be looking into, but that’s just me.
And I’m out. Hit me on Twitter or via email.
A group of so-called "men's rights" activists led by a blogger who once advocated the legalization of rape has cancelled a word-wide series of meetups, including one near Cincinnati.
Return of Kings founder Roosh Valizadeh, 36, wrote on the group's website that all meetups, which had been scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday across the U.S. and as far away as Australia, would be cancelled due to safety concerns for men who might attend.
"I can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to
attend on February 6, especially since most of the meetups can not be
made private in time," a statement on the website says. Cincinnati's meetup was scheduled to take place near I-75 on Sharon Road near a gas station.
The supposed meetups caused anger, and sometimes fear, in many communities, including Cincinnati. Pushback across the country appears to have triggered the cancellations. Local feminist activists here set up strategy meetings for the best way to protest the group, which has published articles with titles such as "Women Should not be Allowed to Vote" and "Make Rape Legal on Private Property."
Roosh says that article was satire, but activists say his group represents a toxic and dangerous movement. Local activist group the Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective called the cancellation "ironic," since Valizadeh's group threatens the safety of women and members of the LGBT community.
“The Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective embraces a culture of consent," Cincinnati Radical Feminist Collective member Abby Friend said in a statement today in response to the events' cancellation. "Return of Kings (ROK), the group planning the now-cancelled Saturday pro-rape rally, is a blatant representation of the problems inherent in a culture that casually accepts sexual harassment, sexual assault, homophobia and rape."
Good morning all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news today.
Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed an ordinance that would punish employers who don’t pay their workers, making Cincinnati the first city in the state to do so. We told you about that ordinance earlier this week. The law would allow the city to better enforce federal and state prohibitions against wage theft, revoke tax incentives and other deals and also allow it, in certain cases, to bar a company caught stealing wages from future city contracts. The ordinance has received praise from progressive groups, and city officials say they’ve received requests for copies of the ordinance from other cities like Columbus.
Victims of wage theft, faith leaders, advocates with Cincinnati’s Interfaith Workers Center and even representatives from contracting groups spoke before the vote, encouraging Council to pass the legislation. The decision wasn’t without some controversy, however, as Republicans Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn moved to amend the language of the ordinance to stipulate that it apply only to those who are working legally in the U.S.
"Wage theft is wrong," Winburn said, but claimed the proposed legislation would "discourage undocumented workers from going through proper channels."
That brought about a flurry of resistance from other Council members.
"It's not even a question of immigration," Councilman Kevin Flynn, a Charterite, said. Flynn said the ordinance is simply about the city not doing business with companies that steal from employees.
Vice Mayor David Mann, who authored the ordinance, refused to accept the amendment. The law passed 7-2.
• Now that the cat’s out of the bag about a potential $680 million in under-scrutinized spending by Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District over a nearly 10-year period, officials with both the city and the county are scrambling to place blame. Both Hamilton County Commissioners and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley have called for extensive auditing of the MSD. The sewer district is run by the city but owned by the county, and both say the other is to blame after revelations that a big chunk of a federal court-ordered $3 billion sewer upgrade has been done without competitive bidding for contracts and with little oversight outside the department. Cranley has said that the misspending has taken place “right under the noses” of county commissioners, while commissioners claim they’ve been trying to get better control of the sewer district’s spending for years. Cranley also pointed to former City Manager Milton Dohoney, who gave former MSD Director Tony Parrot a huge degree of latitude in purchasing decisions in 2007.
• The Hamilton County Board of Elections voted yesterday to move its headquarters from downtown Cincinnati to a location in Norwood. The county’s lease on its current headquarters on Broadway is set to expire this year, and BOE officials say the new location is more central to the entire county. However, many have decried the move, including Mayor Cranley. Having the BOE headquarters, where early voting takes place, close to the county’s transit hub is vital for low-income voters, Cranley says. If the headquarters moves to Norwood, another early voting location should be setup near Government Square, Metro’s downtown hub, the mayor says. Two bus routes serve the proposed location in Norwood, though BOE board members point out the location has a lot of free parking. Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou, who sits on the BOE’s board, pointed to the unanimous decision by the four-member, bipartisan BOE board and said Cranley should “mind his own business” in response to the mayor’s criticism. This isn’t the first time a proposed move by the BOE has caused controversy. In 2014, it looked to move its headquarters to Mount Airy, though that plan was later scrapped.
• Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has coordinated closely with conservative right-to-life activists as he targets Planned Parenthood, a new investigation shows. DeWine exchanged congratulatory text messages and emails with the president of Ohio Right to Life. The group has also offered to share talking points and press materials with the AG and advisors to Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Officials with the organization say it’s not unusual for high-level state officials to be in touch with lobbyists and activists. “I’m not going to apologize for who my friends are,” pro-life lobbyist Mike Gonidakis told the Associated Press. But progressive groups and some government watchdogs have cried foul, saying the relationship between the AG and pro-life group is far too cozy.
• Here’s an interesting look by the Associated Press at the business costs of an anti-gay-rights backlash currently going on in Indiana’s state government. Generally conservative chamber of commerce members and state lawmakers there have become increasingly nervous about the state’s business prospects as the state fails to pass legislation banning discrimination against the LGBT community. The perception that Indiana is a place hostile to gays could hurt the resurgence of cities like Indianapolis, business leaders fear.
• Finally, thousands of Uber drivers plan to protest fare cuts by the company by disrupting Sunday’s Super Bowl in San Francisco. As many as 9,000 drivers are expected to congest the streets around Levi’s Stadium there as they decry changes to Uber’s policy that drivers say have left many of them making less than minimum wage. Smaller protests have already popped up in San Francisco and New York City, where on Feb. 1 coordinated demonstrations drew about 1,000 drivers each.
Hey hey Cincy! How are you all on this fine spring morning? Wait, it’s early February? Guess I better change out of these jean shorts and put the slip-n-slide away. Bummer. Be right back.
OK, where were we now? News. Right. Let’s get to it.
Last night Xavier University held a packed town hall discussion on the state of Cincinnati 15 years after the police shooting of unarmed black citizen Timothy Thomas and the civil unrest that shook the city afterward. Here’s my story about that ahead of a more in-depth dive later. I also live tweeted last night’s event and you can find quotes from panelists on my feed.
• Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has proposed a new measure aimed at increasing pedestrian and bicyclist safety, according to a news release sent out this morning. Sittenfeld’s proposed motion, which would ask the city to identify the area’s most dangerous intersections for non-car-drivers and present options aimed at mitigating the dangers there. Sittenfeld says his motion, which comes in the wake of a hit-and-run accident that killed a popular Cincinnati cyclist in Anderson last week, has support of the rest of Council. As a cyclist and a walking commuter, I very much hope the city follows through on this.
• A visit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in East Price Hill has some members of the immigrant community and their advocates on edge. Agents with ICE showed up yesterday morning at an apartment complex that houses a few Central American immigrant families, and now some in the community fear the visit is the precursor to a larger raid by the agency tasked with enforcing America’s immigration laws. Late last year, the Obama administration announced it would begin more strictly enforcing those laws and deporting undocumented families who arrived after 2014. Several states have already seen raids from the agency.
• Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District spent hundreds of millions of dollars over nearly a decade without necessary city oversight, city documents and officials say, much of it through contracts to third parties for work it didn’t put up for competitive bids. The spending has its roots in a policy shift started in 2007 that gives large amounts of control to MSD director without proper oversight from city officials outside the department, according to this Cincinnati Enquirer story. City Manager Harry Black has vowed to change the way the department operates so that spending is more transparent and accountable.
• Welp, we’ve talked a lot about how Ohio Gov. John Kasich has his hopes pinned on New Hampshire as he chases the GOP presidential nomination. But then Iowa happened. Specifically, Republican young gun U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t do that terribly in the state’s caucus, the first contest in the country where primary voters pick their favorites for their party’s nominee. Rubio finished third behind surprise winner U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and real estate hustler Donald Trump.
Consensus among political pundits is that Cruz and Trump are unelectable, but that Rubio could consolidate support from establishment GOP power players, putting him in position to surge ahead in polls. That’s got political talking heads going all crazy like this (only replace “Ru-fi-o!” with “Ru-bi-o!”), which could make their punditry a self-fulfilling prophecy in places like… you guessed it… New Hampshire. Kasich has been doing markedly better in that state, which he has identified as his make-or-break stand. He’s scooped up the vast majority of newspaper endorsements there and is polling a strong third behind Trump and Cruz. But that could change if Rubio-mania continues. So will Kasich go on the offensive against the Florida senator, who has some pretty big weak spots in terms of his congressional attendance record, his personal finances and other issues? We’ll see. Primaries in New Hampshire are Feb. 9.
• Here’s a brief, but important presidential election update: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky suspended his presidential campaign this morning so he can focus on his Senate re-election bid. Once though to be a big contender this election, Paul’s less interventionist foreign policy ideas and criminal justice reform domestic policy ideas have failed to gain traction in a GOP primary race full of war-loving ideologues convinced a wave of illegal immigrants is coming to rob us blind. Go figure.
• Finally, we’ve seen a lot of journalism about how much the various presidential campaigns are raising in contributions, which PACs and Super PACs are spending millions on those candidates, and the like. But under-covered until now has been the little-known but completely vital pizza primary. How much has your choice for president spent on pizza? Spoiler alert: Ohio’s big queso Kasich hasn’t spent much dough on the cheesy stuff.