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by Natalie Krebs 03.23.2016 41 days ago
Posted In: News at 03:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
streetcar

Council Approves Halting Streetcar for Downtown Festivities

Ordinance allows organizers of seven major events to stop service

City Council passed an ordinance today that could halt the streetcar's operation during seven downtown heritage events during its first two years of operation. 

The sunset ordinance would give the organizers of the Flying Pig Marathon, Taste of Cincinnati, Oktoberfest, Opening Day Parade, Thanksgiving 10K, Health Expo and the Heart Mini Marathon 90 days before their event to alert Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA) to stop service. The ordinance is effective through 2018 when City Council will re-evaluate it. 

After a two-and-a-half-hour debate in Council's Transportation Committee on Tuesday, the ordinance passed on Wednesday after about a half hour of debate in a vote of 6-2. Council members Wendell Young and Yvette Simpson voted against it; Councilman Chris Seelbach was absent from the meeting.

Mayor John Cranley, who introduced the ordinance, said event organizers had expressed interest in adapting their events to the streetcar but that there needs to be an adjustment period so they are not forced to do something drastic like move the event. 

"Some people are out there spinning this as if it's an attempt to hurt the streetcar," Cranley said. "I think it would be very bad for the streetcar if somehow these issues weren't resolved." 

Cranley also said the police and fire departments have expressed safety concerns about the streetcar's operation during events, which sometimes serve alcohol and often attract tens of thousands of attendees. 

Simpson said she believed Council needed more time to make the decision and to consider all possible options. 

"I just requested that we have more time," she said. "This is a very important endeavor for the organizations involved and the streetcar."

Councilman Kevin Flynn responded to Simpson, saying he believed the closures would amount to just 12 hours total, often during off-peak hours like Sundays.

"I think that we had the information we needed," he said.

Councilwoman Amy Murray, who is also the chair of the transportation committee, said it would be closed the minimum amount of time as required by any particular event. 

Neither Mayor Cranley nor any council members directly addressed concern over the potential loss of revenue the streetcar could face by closing during heavily attended events. It is currently facing possible budget deficits for its first two years of operation. 

The streetcar is scheduled to start running in a 3.6-mile loop through downtown and Over-the-Rhine in September. The first major event after its opening will be Oktoberfest.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.23.2016 41 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
to do_smale riverfront park-courtesy cincinnati parks

Morning News and Stuff

Questions emerge over Park Board contracts for Smale Park; Council fights yet again over streetcar; Kasich treading water after brutal primary losses

Good morning all. Here’s the news today.

Remember back in November when all those accusations were flying about the way the Cincinnati Park Board operates? There are more questions now. As it turns out, the construction of Smale Riverfront Park downtown was carried out without contracts
ever going out for bid on the $97 million construction project. Instead, construction work was tucked into pre-existing contracts for maintenance, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer investigation. That likely violated city ordinances around proper bonding and insurance, and may have also violated other city and state laws. The funds for that work included $40 million in public dollars. Park officials say they played by the book, however, and didn’t break any rules in building the park on a short timeframe.

• There are new developments in the most tiresome and irritating local politics story in the country! Are you hyped? We all paid Cincinnati City Council to fight for two and a half hours yesterday about the streetcar again. This time, the wheel-spinning debate was over which downtown events the streetcar should close for. Council’s Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation committee eventually voted to pass an ordinance closing the transit project for seven events, including the Opening Day Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Race, the Flying Pig Marathon, Oktoberfest and others. Those first two will be able to close down the streetcar into the foreseeable future, while the ordinance allowing other events to do so will expire in 2018. Puzzlingly, some of the events able to shut down operations up to that time, including the Health Expo in Washington Park, don’t coincide with the streetcar route. Leaders from the events in question have indicated they’re willing to work with the city and aren’t trying to impede the streetcar. Previously, the city manager had the power to close the streetcar for up to four events a year.

• Across the river, the city of Covington has approved a syringe exchange program. Though the program hasn’t been created yet, city commissioners voted unanimously to allow a program that would allow drug users to turn in used needles for clean ones, reducing both the spread of blood-borne diseases and needles littering public spaces. Cases of Hepatitis C, for example, have soared in Northern Kentucky, rising to rates 20 times higher than the national average. The approval comes as the Northern Kentucky Health Department works to establish four exchanges in Covington, Florence, Newport and Williamstown. The Williamstown location opened last week, though none of the other sites have exchanges just yet.

• Staying south of the state line, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky, is calling for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to drop out of the GOP presidential primary. Massie, a Tea Party conservative, says Kasich has no chance to win at this point and should clear the way for leaders Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Massie didn’t go so far as to endorse either of those candidates, however. He originally supported U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a fellow Kentuckian, before Paul dropped out early in the race.

• So let’s talk about the primary a little more. Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders took primary contests in Utah and Idaho by large margins while his Democratic primary opponent Hillary Clinton won Arizona. Those states were proportional, and Sanders took more delegates than Clinton, narrowing Clinton’s imposing delegate lead slightly. Meanwhile, Republican front runner Donald Trump took Arizona easily, gaining 58 delegates, while second-place contender Cruz took all 40 of Utah’s delegates. You’ll notice that Kasich’s name doesn’t appear anywhere in those results. He got crushed in the most recent round of primary voting — humiliatingly, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has already dropped out, got more of the vote in Arizona. And despite being the traditionally establishment GOP candidate in the field, Kasich hasn’t really curried continued support from the party’s bigwigs. Former primary contender Jeb Bush, for example, has backed Cruz, not Kasich.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.22.2016 42 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
joebiden

Morning News and Stuff

Historic Preservation Board approves demolition of historical downtown building; Biden to visit Cincy; Obama asks Congress to normalize relations in Cuba

Good morning, Cincinnati. With sad news coming out of Belgium and historic news coming out of Cuba, it's a big day for international news. But first, here are your local headlines. 

• Cincinnati's Historic Preservation Board has approved a real estate developer's request to tear down two buildings located downtown at the corner of Eighth and Main streets. The request passed Monday in a vote of 5-1 pushing forward Hyde Park-based Greiwe Development Group's $50 million plan to build two new 14-story buildings to house 60 luxury condos. One of the buildings set for demolition is a six-story Italianate building, built as a warehouse in 1875. The other is a not-so-historical two-story building from the last century. The developers told the board that they had determined renovating the structures would result in a loss in their investment. 

• Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to be in Cincinnati this morning. Given how President Barack Obama is currently soaking up the Cuban sunshine in Havana, I would say Biden drew the executive short straw for travel this week. Biden will speak to a private fundraising event for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ted Strickland and has no public appearances scheduled. So if you want to catch a glimpse of the VP, you'll probably have to cough up the $500 entry fee for Strickland's event. 

• The Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response team wants to make sure Easter eggs are the only things kids are finding in their yards this upcoming holiday weekend. The group issued a warning Monday for parents to check for syringes before sending their kids out on Easter egg hunts. Health experts say the heroin epidemic sweeping region has led to an increase in discarded, used syringes popping up in public places. If you do happen to find one this weekend (or ever), you can learn about proper disposal here

• TourismOhio is launching a new campaign to boost tourism in the state. The campaign called "Ohio. Find It Here." will debut today and is targeted at the state's residents between the ages of 25 to 54. Mary Cusick, the director of TourismOhio said Governor John Kasich and the Development Services Agency asked her to "make Ohio look cool," which it is not, according to the tourism group's survey of residents of Ohio and its neighboring states. The new campaign is being released in time for Ohio's longer, sunnier months and will highlight the many fun and diverse activities the state has to offer. The state received more than $40 billion from tourism in 2014, the majority coming from in-state travelers. 

• Today voters in both parties in Arizona and Utah go to the polls, while Idaho Democrats hold their caucuses. Some Republicans are sweating the results as many in the party remain uncomfortable with frontrunner Donald Trump's lead. On the other side, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders aims for Utah and Idaho, where he is leading in polls, as tries to catch up to opponent Hillary Clinton's solid lead. 

• President Obama made his keynote speech in Havana today. In a major speech that was televised to 11 million Cubans on national television, Obama stood by Cuban leader Raul Castro and called on Congress to lift the trade embargo that has been in place since 1961 and normalize relations with the island nation. The president arrived in Cuba on Sunday with his family and is the first president to visit the country since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. You can read a recap here.

• By now, you've surely heard about the terrorist attacks that hit Brussels airport and a subway station near the headquarters of the European Union. The death toll is up to 34, with 14 at the airport and 20 in the metro station. European security officials had feared another attack following the Nov. 13 attack by Islamic radicals in Paris that killed 130. Obama condemned the attacks and pledged solidarity with Belgium as he took the stage in Havana. GOP presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also released a statement this morning condemning the attacks.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.21.2016 43 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
todo_rosemary_clooney_mural_in-maysville_photo_greg_hume

Morning News and Stuff

Sierra Club blasts city, county MSD fight; Historic Conservation Board to hear downtown building demolition cases; Kasich rules out VP run

Hey all. Hope your weekend was rad. MusicNOW was incredible and I kinda wish I’d learned how to play like, concert piano or violin as a kid instead of boring guitar. Anyway, here’s what’s going on today in news.

You might need a little soundtrack for this first bit, and this weird song by hometown heroes Why? fits perfectly. Does the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District need outside supervision? That’s what environmental advocacy group the Sierra Club says. The group, which filed a lawsuit that sparked a 2004 federal consent decree requiring a $3.4 billion update of the sewer system, is pushing for an outside overseer to make sure that work is being done efficiently and in a timely manner. Sierra Club asked for the outside oversight in the initial decree 12 years ago, but a federal judge ruled at the time that the city and county should be given time to work on the problems themselves. Now, with both governmental bodies feuding and the entire situation turning somewhat chaotic, Sierra Club is again asking for independent oversight.

• Another big mural is coming to Over-the-Rhine, and this time the public will get to help choose whom it will honor. Arts nonprofit Artworks will open voting March 28 to decide which famous Cincinnati woman will be depicted in its next project on the 1600 block of Pleasant Street near Findlay Market. So far, the possibilities include groundbreaking blues singer Mamie Smith, actress and civil rights activist Louise Beavers, Grammy-award winning singer and actress Rosemary Clooney, female professional baseball player Dorothy Kamenshek and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.

• Here’s just a short blurb about how college basketball is dead to me. University of Cincinnati lost due to a last-second dunk that refs said was TOO last second. Xavier lost in an unbelievable game. March madness is already over for me, and apparently for Bill Murray as well. At least I’m in good company.

• Today, Cincinnati’s Historic Conservation Board will meet to begin deciding the fate of two Civil War-era downtown buildings that might face demolition. One of those buildings is the Dennison Hotel building on Main Street, and the other, which will likely be considered today, is another significantly sized building across the street. Owners of both buildings are asking for demolition permits to make way for new mixed-use construction project along the upcoming streetcar route. Historic preservation activists, who say the buildings can be redeveloped without demolition, are planning on attending the meetings about the buildings in order to advocate for their preservation. The conservation board’s meetings take place on the fifth floor at the Centennial Plaza II building at 805 Central Ave.

• Well, we’ve told you about the forthcoming Northern Kentucky theme park called the Ark Encounter, which will feature a full-sized Noah’s Ark replica. Well, some folks in the area are apparently pretty skeptical of the $90 million project. The Tri-State Freethinkers, a local group of advocates for the separation of church and state, are raising money to put up billboards criticizing the theme park, which is set after a court battle to receive $18 million in tax incentives from the state of Kentucky. The group was originally turned down for those credits because of its religious nature and the religious questions it asks on some job applications, but a judge ruled the group couldn’t be denied the credits for those reasons. The Freethinkers’ billboards, which could go up as soon as this week, will feature the phrase “Genocide and Incest Park,” a jab at the story of the great flood found in the bible’s Old Testament.

• Finally, it’s all or nothing for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is still a long-shot contender for the GOP presidential nomination. Kasich is banking on a brokered convention at this point and crossing his fingers that frontrunner Donald Trump doesn’t scoop up the 1,237 delegates needed to take the party’s primary outright. Not only is he sticking in the race, he’s saying he’s not in it for a consolation prize. Over the last week, he has ruled out running as vice president behind either Trump or second-place contestant U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Go hard or go home, I guess, but it’s probably going to be “go home” for Kasich. Actually, the convention is in Cleveland this summer, so I guess it’ll be going home for Kasich no matter what. But I digress.

News tips via Twitter or email. Later.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.18.2016 46 days ago
Posted In: News at 09:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
joe deters

Morning News and Stuff

Mayor's childhood poverty task force delays report; who won local Democratic party power struggle?; Trump nomination would force soul-searching for Democrats

Hey all! Here’s the news today.

First, let’s drill down a little bit more on something we talked about Wednesday, following primary voting — the ultra-local battle for precinct executive seats going on within the local Democratic Party. As we mentioned before, the winners of those seats help decide who the Cincinnati Democratic Committee will endorse in, say, the next mayoral race coming up in 2017. So, naturally, Mayor John Cranley, as well has his more liberal detractors within the party, both pulled out all the stops to get people friendly to their sides elected. As we told you Wednesday, a few high-profile Cranley backers lost their bids — but so did high-profile urban progressives like Ryan Messer, a vocal critic of Cranley. So who really won? According to this Business Courier story, because both sides are staying mum about who exactly is backing who among the 139 precinct executives elected Tuesday, it’s actually kind of hard to know how this very local, but very important, race shaped up. Interesting.

• A childhood poverty task force put together by Mayor Cranley and announced at his October state of the city address will delay its initial recommendations on how to fight one of the city’s biggest challenges. The Childhood Poverty Collaborative was initially slated to release its plans in June. But yesterday, CPC’s executive director Lynn Marmer announced that the group will delay that release until early November. In the meantime, it has hired research firm the Rand Corporation and has plans to hold more than 100 meetings in various communities throughout the city. Some critics say the problem has been studied enough and that it’s time for action. But CPC says the wealth of perspectives and data available make it essential to consider them all thoroughly before launching a plan.

• Former Veterans Affairs Chief of Staff Barbara Temeck won’t face charges related to prescriptions she wrote for a superior’s family member but will surrender her registration with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in relation to that misconduct. A wider investigation into misconduct at the VA continues after allegations arose from VA employees regarding under staffing, declining quality of care and other issues. Temeck’s attorneys say she performed the duties expected of her during her time at the agency and also reported financial irregularities and concerns about health care quality while there and is now seeing retaliation due to those complaints.

• Last month, University of Cincinnati reached a $4.85 million settlement with the family of Samuel DuBose, who UC police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed after a routine traffic stop in Mount Auburn. But the way that settlement will be paid out is interesting. UC itself is only on the hook for about $100,000 of that money upfront. An insurance consortium that insures most of Ohio’s large universities will pay much of the rest of the settlement. UC will see a portion of those costs over time in increased premiums, and the school will still pay for tuition for DuBose’s children.

• It isn't often that Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters supports letting someone out of prison, but he's doing exactly that in the case of Tyra Patterson, who is serving a 16-years-to-life sentence for her part in a 1994 group robbery that lead to the shooting death of a 15-year-old. Patterson says she's innocent. She's been in prison for 21 years. Deters, who believes she was involved in the robbery, says she's done her time and has rehabilitated herself. The prosecutor joins a number of high-profile officials calling on Ohio Gov. John Kasich to give Patterson clemency.

• Capping off a highly local edition of morning news today — Cincinnati city officials are working to revamp the city’s downtown business strategy. New efforts will include working to keep Race Street mainstay giants like Macy’s, officials say, but should also take a wider look at retail downtown and strive to expand small businesses and mixed use developments. Some of the new, more holistic approach will include data that hasn’t been available before now, officials say, which could help existing retailers while enticing new businesses into the central business district.

• Finally, are you Trumped out yet? If not, here’s an interesting piece on what a Donald Trump nomination by the GOP means for the Democratic Party. In short, the editorial argues that competing against Trump in the upcoming general election would force Democrats to once and for all decide between populist, working-class values and more economically conservative, business-friendly policies popular with some party elites. It’s worth a read.

I’m out! Have a good weekend. I’ll be at MusicNOW tomorrow getting in one last visit to Music Hall before it closes for renovations. Very excited for the show — I went last year and it was amazing. But I have a problem. Do I dress up? Wear my normal thrift store hipster junk? Mix and match? Help me.

E-mail or tweet at me with news tips or fashion suggestions.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.17.2016 47 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
santa ono

Morning News and Stuff

UC President Santa Ono wants the streetcar to go Uptown; CPS threatens to take back CCAC building; Creation Museum lays out plans to expand

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Cincy! Here are your morning headlines. 

University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono says he'd like to see the streetcar extend to go Uptown and to UC's campus. Ono first publicly announced his position in a recent speech that was posted on YouTube. Ono, who has previously supported the project privately, said solid public transit is important to attract millennials who are increasingly looking to go carless. Ono also reportedly emailed Daniel Traicoff, a former campaign aide to city council member Chris Seelbach, earlier this month asking how the university could aid the extension. However, the city might not be thinking as far ahead as Ono yet. It's still working on rolling out the first phase of the streetcar that will run through downtown and Over-the-Rhine beginning this fall and securing enough money to pay for its first two years. 

• Cincinnati Public Schools is threatening to take back the building now housing the Clifton Cultural Arts Center. The two groups have been unable to reach an agreement on the amount the school district should pay to rent out several of the CCAC's classrooms. While CPS actually owns the CCAC's building, it has leased the property to the arts center for 30 years, starting in 2008. But, according to the lease, CPS can break the contract if it determines it needs the space for educational purposes, which it's now saying it does. No final decisions have been made yet, and if CPS goes forward with its threats, it will be required to give the center a 365-day notice to vacate. 

• As I passed City Hall on my bike yesterday, I started thinking that the building has to be one of the most stunning city halls architecturally. Well, it seems Architectural Digest agrees with me, because it recently named the century-old building as one of its "9 City Halls with Amazing Architecture." The 1893 Richardsonian Romanesque-style building designed by Samuel Hannaford shares the list with new and old city hall buildings located in places like Las Vegas, Buffalo, New York and Austin, Texas. 

• The Creation Museum is Burlington, Kentucky, is planning an expansion. The tourist destination, which is famous for disputing scientific evidence with biblical teachings, has presented its plan to rezone 54.9 acres around the museum to the Boone County Fiscal Court for review. The expansion would include a new gift shop building, mini golf course and petting zoo, among other things. 

• Ohio law enforcement officials have less than a week to send in old rape kits to be tested. A law enacted March 23, 2015 requires that agencies submit untested kits for testing within a year and to process any news kits within 30 days. Under the new law, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has tested 10,133 kits, resulting in 3,600 DNA hits and hundreds of new indictments. 

• SeaWorld today announced that it will stop breeding killer whales. This means the current generation living at its parks will be the last. The theme park is still struggling under the negative publicity brought by the 2012 book Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity and the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which asserted that the giant sea mammals are probably pretty miserable living in a large swimming pool surrounded by humans. SeaWorld previously announced in November that it would be phasing out its killer whale performances at the San Diego location.
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.16.2016 48 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
ghostsigns_dennisonhotel_jf2

Morning News and Stuff

Cincy named 10th-best skyline; tea party favorite takes primary for Boehner's seat; prosecutor in Rice shooting loses election

Good morning all. As you’d probably expect, we’re gonna talk about a lot of politics today.

The topline: Ohio Gov. John Kasich won the GOP presidential primary in Ohio last night, squeezing out Donald Trump here. Trump, however, picked up Florida and other states, pulling further ahead of his closest competitor U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and burying U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has now suspended his campaign after losing in his home state. On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton easily bested U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, as she did in most of the other states voting yesterday. Clinton got 57 percent of the vote, including 60 percent in Hamilton County. Clinton now seems very likely to get her party's nomination. Kasich... well, he's hoping that Trump doesn't get to 1,237 delegates and that he may somehow come out on top in a brokered convention in Cleveland. Trump and Cruz, however, have other plans, and even former House Speaker John Boehner, who endorsed Kasich, has a dark horse favorite in this whole mess.

• Before we go deeper into the politics sinkhole, let’s talk about other stuff, shall we? Did you know that Cincinnati has the 10th-best skyline in the nation, according to a new ranking by travel site Thrillist.com? I mean, considering we invented Skyline and most other cities don’t have it at all, that seems like a pretty low score. Wait, sorry, they’re talking about buildings, not chili. (Did you know I was going to make that terrible joke? Of course you did.) Cincy beat out Atlanta, St. Louis, Nashville, Miami, Boston and a number of other cities that don’t have the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge at their front door. Losers. In fact, our fair city placed only one spot lower than that one place that has the actual Brooklyn Bridge. We had a Roebling before it was cool, tho. Regional rivals Pittsburgh beat us handily, however, because they have three rivers instead of one. Seattle has the number one skyline on the list because it has mountains, a futuristic Jetsons tower and Puget Sound. Seems unfair really.

• Speaking of downtown buildings, Cincinnati could lose one of its more historic ones. The owners of 126-year-old Dennison Hotel on the 700 block of Main Street have applied for permits to tear it down. The Dennison was once upon a time single-room occupancy affordable housing but today stands vacant. Columbia REI LLC, which bought the building back in January, said in documents filed with the city that they’re putting together a group of properties in the area for a major development and that it’s most cost-effective to tear down the eight-story building. Columbia commissioned a report to study costs for converting the building into apartments, condos or office space, but that report didn’t take into account possible Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits in its cost analysis. The state has awarded those credits to a number of developments in Cincinnati.

• Sorry to do this to you, but it’s back to politics. After a bit of controversy among Democrats around mailers designed to promote candidates friendly to Mayor John Cranley for the party’s precinct executive positions, election results for those vying for the positions were mixed to say the least. Several candidates with ties to Cranley, including Cranley spokesman Kevin Osborne and his political consultant Jared Kamrass, lost their bids for those seats. Meanwhile, some more left-leaning candidates won their bids. That doesn’t necessarily mean the local Democratic Party is up for a seismic shift, but there are interesting power struggles happening on the county level. You can peruse the results here.

• Let’s look to the north to a surprising congressional race. Voters in former House Speaker John Boehner’s district opted for a tea party-aligned outsider in a Republican primary race that one point had 15 contestants. Troy-based businessman Warren Davidson won the contest and will go on to near-certain victory in the deep-red district’s general election. Pundits and political science academics say voters there sent a clear message about frustration with the political establishment not unlike the one offered by supporters of Donald Trump.

• The primary race for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Rob Portman offered few surprises last night, with the incumbent handily winning the GOP primary and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland winning the chance to oppose him in the Democratic primary. Strickland beat Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on the strength of his name recognition and deeper campaign pockets. Strickland, who has been pretty aloof about Sittenfeld all along, is now focusing more fire on Portman, continuing to hit the Senator on statements saying he’d support GOP primary frontrunner Donald Trump if he’s nominated and also for backing the Republican party’s blockage of a U.S. Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama. Polling has the general election race neck and neck. It’ll be an interesting one as Democrats look to take back control of the Senate.

• Further north we go. In a surprising development, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty is out after losing his Democratic primary competition with former assistant prosecutor Michael O’Malley. McGinty got hit hard on the campaign trail for his failure to bring charges against officers involved in the November 2014 shooting death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland. McGinty’s ouster mirrors a similar development in Chicago, where voters dumped Chicago Prosecutor Anita Alvarez, who took deep criticism after city officials waited 400 days to release the police footage of officers shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald to death.

• Finally, let’s go back to the U.S. Supreme Court for a second. President Barack Obama today announced his nomination to fill a vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In what may be the greatest troll move in history, Obama has nominated well-respected moderate and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the nation’s highest court. Garland has garnered praise from many Republicans in the past. But GOP senators have still vowed to block his confirmation and seem unwilling to even grant him a hearing, saying that Obama should not nominate a justice in an election year.

 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.15.2016 49 days ago
Posted In: News at 08:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
vote logo

Morning News and Stuff

Sheriff Neil walks back Trump rally appearance; report: Metro funding model "unsustainable;" Romney stumps for Kasich in Ohio

Good morning all. Here’s what’s up in Cincy and beyond today.

It’s your last day to vote in the Ohio primary election, so go vote, vote, vote. You can find out your polling location and accepted identification (which includes your driver’s license, military ID or a current utility bill or bank statement with your address on it) here. It looks like we’ll have a big turnout for a primary — more than 14,000 people went to the ballot during the first hour of voting. More than 400,000 people across the state voted early — 80,000 more than 2012’s primary election.

• A new report says more revenue is needed for Hamilton County’s Metro bus system and that county taxpayers should ante up to pay for the service. The report by the 20-member Metro Futures Task Force, which has been in the works for six months, says current funding models for the bus service aren’t sustainable. Metro serves all of Hamilton County, but currently runs primarily on city taxes. The group didn’t say when a ballot initiative could go before county voters asking for money to fund the service, and Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority leadership says all options, including fare increases or service reduction, are on the table as SORTA looks to make bus service more sustainable.

• Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil is distancing himself from GOP presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump after appearing at his rally in West Chester Sunday afternoon. Neil has called his appearance “selfish” and says he only did so because Trump invited him to attend. Neil did not speak at the event, but did appear on stage in uniform and posed for pictures with Republican Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones at the event. Democrats, including Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Tim Burke, immediately criticized Neil for his appearance at the event.

• Speaking of that rally, Trump gave a shoutout to Cincinnati’s hit king Pete Rose during that event, saying he should go to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. But now his eagerness to associate with Rose might have gotten Trump in some hot water. Trump Sunday also tweeted a picture of a baseball signed by Rose and bearing the message,  “Mr. Trump, please make America great again.” Some news organizations took that as a possible endorsement from Rose, something Trump’s campaign probably didn’t mind as he fights to win Ohio’s primary today. The only problem — Rose said through an attorney that he’s not endorsing anyone, and that he didn’t send Trump the signed ball at all. Oops.

• The sister of Avondale resident Sam DuBose, who was shot and killed by a UC police officer last summer, had some tough questions for Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders. At Sanders’ Sunday night town hall in Columbus, Terina Allen asked the candidate what he would do about police accountability if elected president and told him that DuBose would have celebrated his 44th birthday the day before had he not been shot. Sanders offered condolences for Allen’s loss, then outlined new training procedures for officers and said he would institute automatic Department of Justice investigations for citizens killed in police custody or while being apprehended by police.

Sanders is fighting Democratic presidential primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton for a victory in Ohio's primary today. The Vermont senator has trailed Clinton heavily here in the past — Ohio's moderate Democrats have long supported the Clintons — but a big upset in Michigan and intense on-the-ground campaigning efforts over the past week have made a dent, some polls show.

• Finally, in these last hours before primary voting ends, the question looms large: Will Ohio Gov. John Kasich win his home state or be given a humiliating loss at the tiny hands of Trump? Kasich has gotten a last minute friend to jump in and help him pull Ohio: former GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. The prominent Republican and vocal Trump detractor hasn’t endorsed Kasich, per se, but was stumping for him across the state yesterday.

Polls show Kasich and Trump in a tight race for Ohio’s 66 delegates. Trump is currently winning in the delegate count, but losing big states like Ohio could keep him from reaching the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination outright, sending the whole mess to a complicated brokered convention. Another (slight possibility): U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, another ideological firebrand, could catch up to Trump if he doesn’t keep winning and still has the mathematical possibility of clenching the nomination himself. Outside the battle for Ohio, look for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to drop out soon if he doesn’t win his home state of Florida. It looks very unlikely that Rubio can pull off a win there, by the way, with Trump polling far ahead of Rubio there.

 
 
by Natalie Krebs 03.14.2016 50 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
cover_johnkasich

Morning News and Stuff

Trump speaks to thousands at West Chester rally; presidential candidates tour Ohio before Tuesday primary; protesters call for support of undocumented immigrants

Happy Pi day, Cincinnati! I hope you enjoy that quick, nerdy distraction because it's also less than one day until Ohio heads to the polls to vote in the primary election. Here's a rundown of your morning headlines.

Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of more than 4,000 on Sunday at the Savannah Center in West Chester, making him the only presidential candidate so far to make a stop close to Cincinnati. The GOP frontrunner's unscripted speech took many shots at Ohio Gov. John Kasich, his main republican rival in the Ohio primary, and leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Members of the audience asked Trump questions about education and care for returning war veterans — which he mostly failed to answer. The rally was mostly peaceful, as compared to some of Trump's other recent rallies, with a crowd of around 100 protesters gathered outside the rally and a brief interruption by two Bernie Sanders supporters who were quickly escorted out. 

• Meanwhile, the rest of the presidential candidates have been popping up all over Ohio, hoping to woo Ohioans at the last minute into voting for them. In addition to Trump, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz and John Kasich made appearances across the state this weekend. According to a Quinnipiac poll released today, this election should be a close one. Kasich is tied with Trump, while Sanders is trailing former Clinton by five points.

• Democratic rivals Clinton and Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 3,000 at the Ohio Democratic Party Legacy Dinner at the Greater Columbus Convention Center yesterday. Clinton spoke much longer than Sanders, clocking in 25 minutes as compared to less than 10 minutes for Sanders. However, both reportedly received standing ovations and considerable enthusiasm from the crowd.  

• Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who is trailing far behind Trump and Kasich in Ohio polls, made an appearance in Columbus at the Northland Performing Arts Center on Sunday, pushing himself as the only Republican to who could realistically knock off Trump. 

• Gov. Kasich is scheduled to make an appearance Westerville and North Canton today. Sanders is scheduled for Cleveland and Youngtown, the latter of which Trump is also expected to visit today as well. 

• More than 350 people gathered on Saturday in East Price Hill to march in support of the city's undocumented immigrants. The Rally for Hope was organized by immigration activists in response to recent raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in North Carolina, Georgia and Texas. The rally featured testimony from local immigrants from Central America and a two-mile march through the neighborhood with protesters calling for the federal government to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants. 

• About a dozen people gathered in Mount Auburn Saturday night to celebrate what would have been Sam DuBose's 44th birthday. Mount Auburn resident DuBose was fatally shot last July by former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing during a traffic stop. Tensing is currently set to stand trial for murder in October. Attendees included DuBose's fiancée DaShonda Reid, as well as several of his 11 children.

News tips go to nkrebs@citybeat.com and don't forget to vote tomorrow!
 
 
by Nick Swartsell 03.10.2016 54 days ago
Posted In: News at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
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Morning News and Stuff

Officers acquitted on DUI coverup charges; Central Parkway Bikeway safety study planned; Kasich and Trump head to Cincy this weekend

Hey all. Here’s your morning updates real quick-like.

A Hamilton County Courts judge yesterday acquitted two Cincinnati police officers on charges they covered up a fellow officer’s drunk driving crash. Officer Jason Cotterman and Sgt. Richard Sulfsted were charged with obstructing justice and dereliction of duty for their alleged involvement in hiding a car accident by fellow CPD officer Sgt. Andrew Mitchell. A witness to that accident who called 911 claimed Mitchell seemed “drunk as hell” when he ran two stop signs on West McMicken Avenue and crashed into a utility pole in the early morning hours. However, Cotterman ignored that witness even after another officer told him about those statements. Subsequently, Sulfsted helped Cotterman get Mitchell back to a police station. Mitchell was never given a sobriety test. He eventually pled guilty to two traffic violations and paid $315 in fines. Hamilton County Courts Judge Josh Berkowitz, who decided the verdict in the bench trial against the two officers, said
when handing down the acquittal that the case amounted to “a lot of second guessing of their judgment." Any penalties for the officers for failing to follow police procedures should come internally within the department, Berkowitz said.

• How safe is the city’s Central Parkway Bikeway? We’ll find out. The city of Cincinnati will undertake a safety study of the controversial lane. Cincinnati Police say 62 accidents happened on the stretch of the thoroughfare containing the bike lane in 2015, though no baseline number has been given for years before the lane was introduced. Councilman Christopher Smitherman has called for removal of part of the lane, though community councils in Clifton and Over-the-Rhine have called for it to be expanded, not removed.

• City administration has worked out a new plan that would shore up projected deficits in the streetcar’s operating budget, but that plan is likely to cause controversy. City Manager Harry Black negotiated a deal with philanthropic group the Haile Foundation, which has pledged $900,000 toward the streetcar’s operating budget, to ensure that the money is available to the city when it needs it to fill gaps in the transit project’s finances. However, Cincinnati City Council may also have to pull money from the general fund under the plan in order to fully fund the streetcar’s operations. The general fund money would come from increased parking revenues from longer hours and higher rates downtown and in OTR, increases which were passed to help fund the project.

That’s likely going to stir the ire of anti-streetcar members of Council as well as Mayor John Cranley, who campaigned against the transit project. One option for Council under the plan would be to reduce the frequency of streetcar service should other revenue sources — fares, advertising and the like — fall short. That’s been unpopular with pro-streetcar council members, however, who say it may violate the terms of a federal grant given to the city to set up the project.

• A local preservation advocacy organization is looking at how it could get a fund running to save some of Cincinnati’s historic architecture. The Cincinnati Preservation Association recently won a $15,000 grant to work on ways it could manage a larger fund for loans or grants related to historic preservation. That could help the CPA save buildings like the one at 313 W. Fifth St. downtown and others that have been subject to recent struggles around the difficulties in making historic preservation financially viable.

• As Ohio Gov. John Kasich runs for president, courting GOP primary voters across the country, grassroots conservatives here in Ohio aren’t necessarily lining up behind him or the state Republican party. The state GOP is struggling with the same populist fire that has swept across the nation, and now a number of contested primaries are popping up in Ohio’s GOP-dominated state legislative districts. Many hardline conservative candidates are gaining ground in these districts, running against what they call Kasich’s lack of conservative values. Those unhappy with the Republican governor cite his decision to expand Medicaid in the state, his support for Common Core educational standards and other heresies against conservative orthodoxy. Ohio GOP party leaders acknowledge this grass roots, tea party-fueled rebellion, but have said only a handful of the primary races tea party challengers have entered are actually competitive.

• If you just can’t get enough of the GOP presidential primary, well, you’re in luck. Both Republican front runner Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be visiting the Cincinnati area over the weekend. Trump will be at the Duke Energy Convention Center Sunday from noon to 1:30 p.m., while Kasich will make an appearance Saturday at the Sharonville Convention Center. The visits are part of a large blitz by both candidates in Ohio ahead of our March 15 primary. Kasich needs to win Ohio to stay in the race, though it's unclear what he'll do after that even if he does win.

An Ohio win for Trump could put him one step closer to clinching the Republican nomination outright. If he also wins Florida, which votes the same day, it would be a crushing blow for other candidates still in the race. Hilariously, Trump will end his Ohio fling with a campaign stop Monday night in Westerville, the suburb outside Columbus where Kasich lives. Troll level epic.

 
 

 

 

 
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