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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good morning, Cincinnati! Here are your morning headlines.
A new poll found the majority of Hamilton County voters say they would vote against an increase in sales tax to extend the city's bus service. Well, that is, until they were told what extended bus service would actually look like. Most people were cool with it then. In the poll commissioned by the Southwest Regional Transit Authority, Hamilton County voters were first asked about the sales tax increase to fund bus services without giving any information about it. The majority opposed a 0.25 percent increase (50.6 percent) or a 0.5 percent increase (54.4 percent). But when they were told extended bus service would mean more morning, evening and weekend service and expanded crosstown routes, more hopped on board with it. SORTA found that 51.7 percent favored the 0.25 percent tax increase and 57.6 percent favored the 0.5 percent increase. Extended public transportation appears to be sorely needed in the greater Cincinnati area. A study of Metro last year commissioned by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber found that only 23 percent of the city's jobs are easily accessible by public transit. It found 40 percent weren't reachable via public transit at all.
• January is already one of the most depressing months with the plummet into cold weather surrounded by massive post-holiday hangovers. But to make it worse, it seems more Cincinnatians were also without a job that month. New numbers from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services show Greater Cincinnati's unemployment rate spiked in January to 5.2 percent, an increase from 4.3 percent in December. The hardest hit area was professional and business service jobs, which lost 8,000 positions.
• Here's your primary election updates for the week: Donald Trump, the GOP frontrunner, won three more states' primary elections held yesterday in Hawaii, Michigan and Mississippi. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who currently is running hard to catch up to Trump managed to score a win in Idaho. Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to get the second place victory he was hoping for in Michigan, just barely losing it to Cruz, who got 25 percent of the vote compared to Kasich's 24 percent.
Democratic nominee Vermont Sen. Bernie upset competitor Hillary Clinton, just barely squeaking out a victory in Michigan, while Clinton won by a landslide in Mississippi, winning 83 percent of the vote. Candidates are focusing now on the upcoming Ohio primary, which will take place next week on March 15. Sanders opened up a campaign office in downtown Cincy yesterday. Kasich is hoping an Ohio victory can put him back in the GOP race. But polls so far are showing that Clinton and Trump are leading in Ohio.
The presidential candidates continue to bicker over the hot-button topic of immigration angering Democrats and Republicans over whether or not the U.S. be providing paths to citizenship for undocumented immigrants or forcing Mexico to pay for an pretty-much-impossible-to-build wall on the border. Some of Trump's anti-immigration messages have stirred up Latinos so much that the New York Times is reporting that some are seeking out citizenship just to vote against him.
Hey all. Happy International Women’s Day! Here are some links to info about rad pioneering ladies you should probably know about if you don’t already. Anyway, here’s the news today.
Is Mayor John Cranley stacking the deck in the local Democratic Party ahead of 2017 in hopes of gaining the party’s endorsement for his reelection and running allies for Cincinnati City Council elections? Some think so. A political action committee that has backed the mayor has been mailing out ads supporting Cranley allies running for Democrat precinct executives. Those positions in the Hamilton County Democratic Party help determine endorsements, the party’s City Council slate and other important partisan choices.
Meanwhile, Democratic opponents of the mayor who favor the streetcar and other policies Cranley has opposed are running for those spots. The mailers associated with the Cincinnatus PAC use President Barack Obama’s image and name candidates for the precinct positions that the PAC says will best “protect his legacy.” That PAC shares an address with Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burke’s law firm, though Burke says he’s not involved in the group. Cranley’s opponents say the PAC’s mailings are a kind of cronyism, while Cranley says they’re about building a stronger party. The spat is part of a larger divide within the local Democratic party between established and moderate politicians like Cranley and a more progressive cadre of Democrats. Look for this schism within the local Democratic Party to widen as we get closer to 2017.
• A man who recorded a video he says shows Cincinnati police harassing him in Over-the-Rhine will appear in Hamilton County courts today on contempt of court charges. Charles Harrell spent the weekend in jail without bond after an attorney filed an affidavit that he took photos of police officers outside a Hamilton County courtroom, a violation of security policy there. Harrell was in court at the time facing jaywalking and drug possession charges in relation to the incident he captured on video last month. In that video, officer Baron Osterman follows Harrell on a bicycle, confronting him over an alleged pedestrian violation. That encounter escalated into a verbal argument, at which time Harrell was arrested. Harrell pled guilty to the drug charge but not guilty to resisting arrest and the pedestrian violation.
• Breaking news: U.S. urban policy makers don’t look to Cincinnati, land of years-long battles over a small stretch of bike lane, for its urban policy expertise. That’s one takeaway from a new survey of 89 mayors by Boston University. Less than five percent of respondents to that survey mentioned Cincinnati as a place they look to for policy inspiration. Ouch.
• Cincinnati City Councilman and U.S. Senate hopeful P.G. Sittenfeld has a new endorsement, and it’s, uh, out of this world (preemptive apologies for that one). Yes, Mark Hamill, of Star Wars fame, has come out in support for Sittenfeld based on his advocacy for tighter gun laws. Hamill played Luke Skywalker, in case you were somehow unaware of that. My birthplace of Hamilton, Ohio is also named in his honor. (This is completely untrue, but I told my Minnesota-born coworker Natalie Krebs this and now she’s very, very confused).
Meanwhile, Sittenfeld’s opponent, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who is leading by a large margin ahead of Ohio’s March 15 primary, has announced some powerful endorsements of his own, including former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Giffords has become a vocal proponent for gun control since surviving an assassination attempt in 2011. Strickland has taken much criticism from Sittenfeld for his mixed record when it comes to gun control and has in the past voted against tighter gun control laws. He now says he supports some gun control measures, however.
• Should 17-year-olds be allowed to vote on prospective presidential candidates in Ohio’s primary elections if they’ll be 18 for the general election in November? Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted says no, but advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, are pushing back against that. Husted issued a directive recently that says because delegates are elected for the primary instead of a presidential candidate simply being nominated, 17-year-olds can’t vote for them. That’s caused charges that Husted is trying to curtail young peoples’ rights to decide who will end up running in the general presidential election. Meanwhile, there are other points of confusion about Ohio’s primary voting systems heading into the March 15 election. Read about those here.
• Finally, four states will vote for GOP presidential primary candidates today and two will vote for Democratic presidential hopefuls. What’s gonna happen? It’s high drama as Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan and Mississippi weigh in on the GOP candidates and Michigan and Mississippi decide on Democrats. Michigan, with its big delegate count, is the big deal for both sides, and it’s a state where Ohio Gov. John Kasich is fighting tooth and nail to stay relevant ahead of Ohio’s primary next week. Should Kasich pull out a win here, as at least one poll suggests he could, it would help change the math around Donald Trump’s path to a clean, uncontested nomination. Meanwhile, fellow anti-establishment candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is creeping up on Trump. You can read all about the drama in our primary edition out tomorrow.