CityBeat Blogs - News http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34.html <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> The city of Cincinnati has opted to replace the city's sad, beat-up, beheaded parking meters with multi-space meters requiring motorists to print out a ticket to put in their windshields, according to a memo from City Manager Harry Black. The new meters will soon be installed in 40 locations across the city, including Findlay Market, Court Street, Freedom Way and Washington Park. 

• There's been a lot of controversy around the Central Parkway Bikeway, with some in the city, including City Council members, asking whether it has caused more accidents along the busy street. But a study undertaken by the city and re-released yesterday seems to show that's not the case. A report by the city of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering released yesterday by the office of City Manager Harry Black shows that the stretch of Central Parkway with the controversial bike lane has not had more accidents than comparable roads without the lanes. 

• Campbell County, Kentucky's government has approved a needle exchange program to help prevent the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV among heroin users. The Campbell County Court voted Wednesday to help fund a program that will create mobile van run by health professionals where users will be able to exchange used needles for clean ones. Covington hospital St. Elizabeth Healthcare agreed to provide space for the van on its grounds.

• Former City Council candidate Kevin Johnson was arrested Tuesday and charged with two counts of drug trafficking and two counts drug possession after police found more than 550 grams of cocaine in his car during a routine traffic stop. Johnson, who came in 20th out of the 21 candidates for Council in the 2013 election, is being held at the Hamilton County Justice Center on a bond of $300,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on May 13. 

• After months of clawing his way through the GOP presidential primary as the ultimate underdog, Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced the suspension of his campaign at a Columbus press conference yesterday. Kasich's announcement appears to have been a sudden call. Following another his defeat in Indiana's primary on Tuesday, Kasich's campaign said he would carry on. Yesterday, the Kasich campaign released a Star Wars-themed ad claiming he was "our only hope" just hours before his announcement that he is finally giving up his dreams of the White House.

The Ohio Governor's departure from the race means Trump, as the last GOP man standing, has pretty much secured the party's nomination. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was second behind Trump, suspended his campaign Tuesday after losing Indiana's primary.

News tips go here.
]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Central Parkway Crashes in Line with Other Streets Without Bike Lanes]]>

There's been a lot of controversy around the Central Parkway Bikeway, with some in the city, including City Council members, asking whether it has caused more accidents along the busy street. But a study undertaken by the city and re-released yesterday seems to show that's not the case.

A report by the city of Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering released yesterday by the office of City Manager Harry Black shows that the stretch of Central Parkway with the controversial bike lane has no more accidents than comparable roads without the lanes.

Critics, including Councilman Christopher Smitherman, say that the lanes cause confusion because they require drivers to park in the right lane of the street instead of on the curb, where the bike lane now runs. Smitherman introduced a motion in February asking that the lanes be removed.

In 2015, according to Wednesday's report, Central Parkway between Liberty and Linn streets had 62 total car accidents, including seven involving parked cars.

In that same time frame, Glenway Avenue from Rapid Run Road to Gilsey Avenue, a similar stretch, had 91 accidents, including 13 parked car accidents. Another like stretch of road, Hamilton Avenue from Spring Grove Avenue to Bruce Avenue, had 51 wrecks including seven with parked cars.

"The number of crashes on Central Parkway is comparable to the number of crashes on similar streets," the report concludes. "Research published in the American Journal of Public Health showed that streets with protected bicycle lanes saw 90 percent fewer cyclist injuries per mile than those with no bicycle infrastructure."

The report also breaks down the crashes on Central Parkway by cause, as shown below.

The report is similar to one released and then rescinded by the city in March. Among the differences: The earlier report explicitly recommended that the lanes be retained. That language does not appear in the recently released study.

“Given the reduced risk of injury to bicyclists, the administration does not recommend removal of the bike lanes,” the March memo from City Manager Black reads. “However, DOTE will continue to monitor conditions, and improvements may be made in the future as best practices evolve.”

The new report says that the Cincinnati Police Department's Traffic Unit "did feel that the area is more congested and confusing," but also that CPD feels that should lessen over time as motorists and cyclists become accustomed to the new lane arrangement. "Both Police and DOTE both believe that as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians become more familiar with the area and with the rules for the bike lane operations, there should be fewer conflicts," the new report notes.

There are measures that the city can take to reduce the confusion around the lane, the report says, including additional signs and better traffic stripping. Those measures would cost about $30,000, money DOTE says it has available. By contrast, removing the lanes from the stretch between Liberty and Ravine streets as requested by Smitherman would cost the city $234,000. Removing the entire lane from Marshall Avenue to Elm Street, meanwhile, would cost $587,000, according to the report.

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. 

While some neighboring business owners and the Fraternal Order of Police, whose headquarters are on the bike lane's path, have complained about accidents and parking woes since the lane has been introduced, nearby community councils have rallied around the lane. Clifton Town Meeting and the Over-the-Rhine Community Council have both passed motions this year supporting the lanes and asking for their expansion, citing the increase in economic activity and cyclist safety that studies suggest come with bike lanes in urban neighborhoods.

]]>
<![CDATA[Reports: Kasich Will Drop Out Today]]>

With U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz departing the GOP presidential primary following last night's big win for Donald Trump in Indiana, Ohio Gov. John Kasich was, for a moment, Trump's sole challenger in one of the strangest primaries in memory.

Now, however, there are multiple reports citing a senior campaign advisor saying Kasich is dropping out of the race. The Kasich campaign has cancelled previously-planned campaign stops and scheduled a 5 p.m. news conference in Columbus, where iKasich is expected to make an official announcement.

Kasich was a long-shot candidate at best: Trump has 1,048 delegates and needs only 1,237 to end the race outright. Kasich, meanwhile, has only 153 delegates, still less than now-departed Cruz and long-gone U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Despite this, the Kasich campaign this morning confidently released a  Star Wars-themed video (it is May 4, after all) laying out a nightmare scenario for conservatives: It's 2017, and Hillary Clinton has trounced Trump in the general election, going on to nominate a Supreme Court justice and institute a raft of liberal policies. But there's hope, and that hope's name is... you guessed it: John Kasich.

Kasich faced a nearly-impossible path, however. To win the GOP nomination, he would have had to somehow prevent Trump from gaining the last few delegates he needs to clinch the nomination. Kasich would then have had to best Trump at a contested convention, convincing delegates that it would be better to vote for him than the candidate primary voters sent them to vote for.

Kasich continuing his campaign at this point would have flown in the face of even GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, who has called Trump the party's presumptive nominee. But Kasich did have a couple points to argue for his nomination in the very unlikely contested convention scenario: In what started as a huge primary field, more primary voters voted for some other candidate besides Trump. Kasich's campaign has also pointed to polls showing him winning against Clinton in a general election in November, something Trump has not been able to claim. (Most recent polls show Clinton widening her margins against Trump, though one has Trump neck and neck with Clinton. So far, it's an outlier.)

Kasich's political opponents in Ohio cheered the news.

“Since last March, Governor John Kasich has spent more than 200 days out of state, pursuing his presidential ambitions and ignoring the needs of the people of Ohio," the Ohio Democratic Party said in a statement, accusing Kasich of "gallivanting across the country" instead of working on issues in Ohio.


]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. It’s news time.

I think you know what’s first on the agenda: last night’s historic Indiana primary results and the ensuing realization that, barring some unimaginable turn of events, Donald Trump will be the GOP’s presidential nominee.

Trump dominated the Hoosier State yesterday, taking at least 51 of the state’s 57 delegates and bringing his total delegate count to 1,048. He needs only 1,237 to clinch the game outright, and some big states — including California and New Jersey — loom ahead. Racking up delegates is going to get a lot easier for Trump because his nearest opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, uh, cruised right out of the race after results came in last night. That leaves only Ohio Gov. John Kasich left running against Trump, but good luck if you’re a Kasich fan. Dude is still trailing the dispirited ghosts of Marco Rubio and Cruz’s campaigns with just 157 delegates and isn’t anywhere near Trump’s total. What’s more, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus last night said Trump will be the party’s presumptive nominee. Will Kasich drop out? Stay tuned.

• Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders had a big night in Indiana, winning 53 percent of the vote and taking 43 of the state’s 80 delegates. He still trails Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton 1,410 delegates to her 1,700. There are more states friendly to Sanders coming up, but unless he gets huge, huge wins in them or somehow convinces the Democratic party’s super delegates to side with him instead of the frontrunner, he’ll face an uphill battle.

• What does this new near-certainty around Trump’s nomination mean for Senate races? Bad news for the GOP, some Republican strategists fear. Some veterans of past Republican Senate campaigns put the odds that the party will lose control of the Senate at 75 to 80 percent as general election voters who might have sided with a more traditional and moderate Republican candidate stay away from the polls or vote Democratic. Some, however, see hope if candidates like Ohio’s U.S. Sen. Rob Portman can distance themselves from Trump’s unconventional campaign. Portman is running a very tough race against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland.

• Here’s some local presidential race news: Cincinnatian Chris Wyant will run Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in Ohio. Wyant worked for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns and also as a managing director for Enroll Ohio, which encouraged state residents to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Wyant has connections: His parents, Jack Wyant and Peg Wyant, both worked for Procter & Gamble before starting their own venture capital firm. In addition, Jack is a Cincinnati Reds co-owner and Peg is the CEO of Grandin Properties, a real estate company owned by the family that is very active in Over-the-Rhine. Wyant’s wife, Lauren Kidwell, also has ties to Obama’s past campaigns and his administration.

• You know that feeling when you order something online and can’t wait for it to show up? That’s kind of what city transit officials must feel like right now. Cincinnati’s fifth and final streetcar is on the way and should arrive sometime today. Expect Race Street, where the streetcar maintenance facility is located, to be closed around Findlay Market for a couple hours starting at 2 p.m. Unloading is expected to take about 90 minutes. The first streetcar arrived in October. All the cars must undergo rigorous testing, including empty runs around the city, before passengers can ride them. The city last week passed the 3.6-mile transit loop’s budget last week, and it is expected to start taking passengers in September.

• A Washington, D.C.-based developer will hold onto 10 properties it owns in Over-the-Rhine by addressing multiple municipal code violations on those buildings. The city of Cincinnati threatened to take action against 2414 Morgan Development, LLC, after seven of the company’s buildings were declared public nuisances for their advanced states of disrepair. That action would have included seizure of the buildings, but the developer has side-stepped having the properties placed in receivership for now by making some of the necessary repairs. 2414 Morgan says it is dedicated to renovating the buildings. The city says it doesn’t foresee putting the properties into receivership right now, but will look into further action if more issues arise.

• Finally, the organization that represents many of Ohio's businesses says it doesn't want marijuana legalization, but that if it has to happen, it would prefer a series of bills going through the state's legislature over constitutional amendments. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on two different proposed constitutional amendments around legalizing medicinal marijuana, saying it would prefer lawmakers tackle that subject through the usual legislative process. Last year, a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing limited marijuana growth and sale by ResponsibleOhio was roundly rejected by the state's voters.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Hey all. Today is Indiana’s primary. Go vote if you live in Indiana. If you don’t live in Indiana, continue to gnash your teeth and pray that somehow this election season is simply some very long-term practical joke or a very committed performance art piece.

About the primary: On the GOP side, Donald Trump is leading in the polls. He’s enlisted the help of former Indiana University basketball coach and fellow freaky hair grower Bobby Knight to stump for him and occasionally throw chairs at the crowd/hecklers/his opponents. Formidable duo, to say the least. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, desperately needs a win tonight to keep his campaign afloat. He trails in the delegate count 565 to Trump’s 996 and so far has only managed to get in awkward arguments with folks in the Hoosier State. And then there’s Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been content to beg Indiana’s 57 delegates to consider switching their vote to him at a contested convention should Trump not reach the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright. Solid strategy there.

• Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders are running neck and neck in the state. That doesn’t matter much, because Clinton’s lead over Sanders all but guarantees her the Democratic nomination. Sanders is fighting on, however, and has vowed to take his battle all the way to the Democratic National Convention in July. A Sanders victory wouldn't get him much closer to clinching the nomination (an impossible goal at this point) but would continue to keep his agenda — banking reform, universal health care and fully funded college education, among other goals — on the radar as the election moves forward.

• While we’re talking elections, here’s an interesting piece exploring the challenges facing the GOP come November. Turns out, Republicans could win Ohio and still easily lose the general election, at least according to the scenarios mapped out here. That scenario involves the Democratic nominee scooping up the 19 states and D.C. that Dems have won in the last six elections and taking Florida. If America’s goatee goes blue, it’s pretty much over for the GOP’s presidential hopes.

• Let’s get back down to some local stuff, shall we? This one is just in time for Mother’s Day. It turns out Cincinnati is one of the best cities in the country for working mothers, at least according to a study by Realtor.com. Cincinnati placed sixth in the country according to the ranking, which considered female employment rate, salaries and other career opportunity factors, childcare available and cities’ affordability. As the product of a working mom, I say that’s really cool if true.

• Things are happening in East Walnut Hills. Specifically, development things. A new project featuring nine single-family homes starting at $500,000 has been announced by developer Traditions Building Group. Those homes will stand on the site of the former Seventh Presbyterian Church on Madison Road near DeSales Corner. Some elements of the church will be preserved, it appears. Elsewhere in East Walnut Hills, plans are developing to turn the former YMCA on East McMillan Street into market rate apartments. City Center Properties, which owns the building, has applied for local historic landmark status that could help redevelopment efforts of the 52,000-square-foot building. The specifics of the redevelopment plans aren’t available yet, however, and Cincinnati City Council would have to approve the request for historic status. The YMCA building was constructed in 1930.

• Statewide news time: U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are pushing for millions in funding to test Ohio’s various water supplies for lead following the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Brown’s legislation advanced in the Senate yesterday and would provide $20 million for lead testing in schools and day care centers. It would provide funding for public health measures around lead poisoning and make available low-interest loans to states that need to upgrade drinking water infrastructure. The legislation is part of a larger $9.3 billion water reform bill currently before the Senate.

I’m out. Tweet at me. Email me. You know the drill.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Did you run the pig this weekend? I thought about it. For a few seconds. That should count for something, right? No? OK. Let’s talk news then. There’s a bunch of politics transpiring. Here it is:

A new poll says that only 38 percent of Ohioans want Ohio Gov. John Kasich to stay in the GOP presidential primary, in contrast to the 49 percent who want him out. But there’s an even more striking number in the Public Policy Polling survey: Fifty-eight percent of GOP voters want Kasich to bail on the race, compared to just 33 percent who think he should stay in.

• Is this one reason why taxpayers are tired of Kasich’s run? The Columbus Dispatch reports that his presidential campaign is costing taxpayers plenty when it comes to his security detail. The nine state troopers assigned to protect Kasich at all times racked up 1,800 hours in overtime as of April 16, earning an extra $82,400 in public money.

• One more Kasich tidbit: Our Big Queso is working hard in Indiana to woo voters… but not the voters you’re thinking of. Kasich is mostly ignoring the state’s primary voters and taking his case directly to the state’s GOP delegates, who will decide the presidential nominee in case of a contested convention. After the first round of voting at such a convention, those delegates will become “unbound,” meaning they no longer have to vote for the candidate voters in their state selected.

• Cincinnati restaurant mogul Jeff Ruby has rescinded a $25,000 reward offer in relation to the recent massacre of eight people in Pike County. The execution-style killings of the Rhodan family have drawn national attention and led to speculation that a Mexican drug cartel might be responsible for the carnage after marijuana growing operations were found on the Rhodan’s properties. Ruby has nodded to that speculation as a reason he’s pulling his reward.

• A task force put together by Ohio lawmakers has recommended eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws in the state. A working group that is part of the Criminal Recodification Committee, which is charged with reforming the state’s drug laws, says that the minimums should go away and that new sentencing standards should be put in place. That could reduce Ohio’s prison population, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction says.

• Controversy in Kentucky, part 1: Comments Kenton County District Judge Ann Ruttle’s made while finding former Xavier women’s basketball coach Bryce McKey not guilty of sexual abuse have caused some consternation and concern. Ruttles said that the plaintiff in the case, who alleges McKey gave her alcohol when she was underage and touched her inappropriately, did not do enough to stop him and that her behavior was “almost... an invitation.” Advocates for sexual assault survivors have said that amounts to victim-blaming.  

• Controversy in Kentucky, part 2: Governor Matt Bevin late last week vetoed more than $300,000 in the Kentucky budget meant to help develop an 11-mile trail along the Northern Kentucky riverfront called Riverfront Commons. That will slow, but not stop, the project, which already has funds to establish portions of the trail in Dayton, Ludlow and Covington. Bevin cited “significant fiscal constraints” in the state for his decision. Trail boosters call the cut “disappointing.”

• Finally, this really is more the music section’s purview, but I’m going to mention it. Radiohead has erased nearly its entire web presence — tweets, Facebook, website, everything. Fans of the band and some music critics have speculated this is a sign of a new album on the way — the band is known for its innovative business and marketing (well, really, anti-marketing) approaches. But I have a more precise theory: Yorke and Co. are looking to capitalize on the increasingly prevalent nostalgia for the 1990s, a time blissfully before Twitter, Facebook, immersive website experiences, etc.

Prediction: The next Radiohead album will be announced on a new site that looks like something you’d make on Geocities circa OK Computer.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Big things happened at Wednesday's City Council meeting. Council finally voted to approve the streetcar's operating budget for the first year after spending the last month squabbling and kicking it back and forth between council and committee. The budget just barely passed in a vote of 5-3, with council members Kevin Flynn, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voting against it. Councilwoman Amy Murray was absent from the meeting. Mayor John Cranley, who previously said he would veto any operating budget that didn't get at least six votes, appears to have had enough of this streetcar drama. The mayor decided recently not to veto the budget even if it passed with a mere five votes.

Council also voted to approve a wage hike for city government workers, passing a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for full-time workers and to $10.10 an hour for part-time and seasonal workers. The increase will affect about one out of every five city workers, or about 1,166 workers. Cranley, who introduced the ordinance last month, called council's decision "morally right" and hopes the state will follow suit.

• Students at Northern Kentucky University will see a slight increase in their tuition next year. The NKU Board of Regents voted to pass a 3 percent increase in undergraduate tuition on Wednesday to keep up with rising costs at the university and a decrease in funding from the state. Next year, Kentucky residents can expect to pay an average of $130 more per semester while Cincinnati residents will shell out an extra $200 per semester and nonresidents will pay an extra $260. 

• State Rep. Denise Driehaus is upset with the closure of the Little Miami Incinerator. The incinerator was closed temporarily earlier this month after it was determined that it does not meet federal pollution standards. It served as one of two ways that Hamilton County disposes of human waste, and it's unclear when, or if, it will reopen. Driehaus, who is currently running for Hamilton County commissioner in the upcoming November election, released a statement Thursday morning condemning county for allowing the closure that she saw as avoidable and called for new leadership to better address the issue. 

"This could have and should have been resolved." Driehaus says in the statement. "We need leadership on the County Commission that will roll up their sleeves and work to resolve challenging issues instead of being content to play the blame game when something goes wrong."  

• Since former Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned from his post last October, it seems he feels more free to express his true feelings about the GOP presidential candidates. At an event at Stanford University on Wednesday, Boehner called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a "miserable son of a bitch." Boehner also disclosed that he and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump are "texting buddies" and that he is also friends with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is currently running way behind Trump and Cruz in the election. However, it seems he and Kasich aren't quite BFFs as he also said that their friendship "requires more effort."

• In other election news, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced yesterday that former Hewitt-Packard CEO and GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina will be his running mate. Fiorina was one of the first GOP candidates to drop out of the race and endorsed Cruz in early March. Cruz is the first of any presidential candidate to announce a running mate and his announcement comes a day after as frontrunner Trump just declared victory in five states' Tuesday primaries, bringing the real estate tycoon even closer to securing the GOP nomination.

Stay dry, Cincy! And send any news tips here.
]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Good morning all. Here’s your news today.

The operating budget for the Cincinnati streetcar again looks likely to move forward in City Council today, barring any major surprises. Of course, that was also the case a couple weeks ago, when the budget stumbled over some last-minute objections by Councilman Kevin Flynn around contingency funding. Flynn’s course reversal left the budget with only five votes, which was not enough to overcome a veto promised by Mayor John Cranley. So back to committee it went, where it passed again yesterday. Cranley has indicated he won’t veto the revised budget, which would move about $550,000 in leftover construction funds into a contingency account, even if it only gets five votes. Flynn thinks leftover construction money should be used for startup costs.

• Hey, this is creepy, though not totally unexpected. Crews working to seal off some asbestos in Music Hall found human remains under the orchestra pit. No, they aren’t what’s left of some unfortunate clarinetists who were a little pitchy in their renditions of Rhapsody in Blue’s opening glissando or timpanists who missed a beat or two in a conductor's favorite Bach piece. The remains, which archeological consultants Gray and Pape say probably belonged to four people, seem to be holdovers from the pit’s 1928 construction. The historic hall, as well as the land around it in Washington Park, spent two decades starting around 1818 as a burial ground for indigent residents. Many of those grave sites were moved in the 1850s, but some lingered, and apparently still do. When Music Hall construction began in 1876, workers were faced with the task of removing the remaining bodies to places like Spring Grove Cemetery. Far be it for me to critique someone else’s work, especially when it’s work that I wouldn’t go anywhere near, but… seems like they missed a few spots. In addition to the remains under the orchestra pit, workers also found a number of grave shafts full of wooden coffins.

• If you’re a frequent flyer, you know the struggle: The Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, or CVG, used to be the last resort when you wanted to take a flight on the cheap. Places like Dayton and Louisville — or even Columbus — were cheaper enough to fly from that it made the drive worth it. But not any more, apparently. CVG’s fares are now lower than Dayton and Louisville’s airports, and the lowest they’ve been relative to other airports in more than 20 years. That’s in part due to the increase in airlines flying out of CVG, including low-cost carriers like Allegiant Air. CVG still trails Columbus and Indianapolis in terms of affordability, but not by as much as in the past, when our airport was the third-most expensive in the country. These days, it’s 22nd.

• As you might have guessed, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and real estate mogul Donald Trump came up big winners in yesterday’s GOP primaries. Trump swept every county in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, extending his delegate count to 949 of the 1,237 he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. Meanwhile, Clinton won in all those states except Rhode Island, where her challenger, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, prevailed. Clinton’s victories put the Democratic nomination all but out of reach for Sanders, though he’s vowed to stay in the race. Meanwhile, Trump has also solidified his position as the GOP frontrunner — his second-place opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, has only 544 delegates. Third-place contender, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, has just 153 — fewer than U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the race weeks ago.

• With an ever-clearer picture of who the nominees for each party are likely to be, the frontrunners’ eyes are turning to the general election. And there are signs it’s gonna be an ugly, ugly race. Perhaps feeling his oats after his decisive victories, Trump yesterday bashed Clinton, saying that she’s only winning primaries because she’s a woman. If you thought Trump might tone it down for the general election in a bid to get more mainstream swing voters, including, you know, women, well… don’t hold your breath for too long on that. Key quote from Trump:

She is a woman, she is playing the woman card left and right,” Mr. Trump told CNN in a post-primary interview. “Frankly, if she didn’t, she would do very poorly. If she were a man and she was the way she is, she would get virtually no votes."
]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Hope your weekend was as perfect as mine. Let’s talk about news real quick.

Vice Mayor David Mann says the private foundation that raises money for Cincinnati Parks Board should open its books to public scrutiny. The Cincinnati Parks Foundation, a nonprofit group, came under scrutiny last year during a contentious bid for a property tax levy to fund parks improvements put forward by Mayor John Cranley. Voters passed on that proposal, but not before it was revealed that the park board spent money from the foundation on pro-levy campaigns. After the election, further revelations about board spending on travel and perks drew increased scrutiny to the parks board and triggered a city audit. Now, Mann says the foundation should undergo similar scrutiny.

• Speaking of investigations: Are the feds really looking into MSD? Last year, The Enquirer reported that Cincinnati’s metropolitan sewer district was under the microscope of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, presumably over its implementation of a multi-billion-dollar federal order to revamp the city’s sewer system. However, the FBI hasn’t asked for any of the things you’d expect if it was indeed probing the large public department, the Businss Courier reports. No subpoenas have been filed, no hard drives have been seized and no documents have been requested. If there’s truly an investigation happening, it’s very low-key.

• The state of Kentucky could allocate $10 million to revamp a highway exit leading to the religiously-themed Ark Encounter theme park. Watchdog group Americans United for Separation of Church and State has cried foul at that expenditure, saying it amounts to Kentucky using taxpayer dollars to benefit a religious group. The money for the ramp improvements on I-75 and KY 36 made its way into the state’s budget, which is currently in the process of being passed. AUSCS says it doesn’t have any plans as of yet to oppose the money, but says it is continuing to watch the situation. Ark park owners Answers in Genesis say an earlier ruling allowing Kentucky to give tax incentives to the site has answered questions about the legality of such expenditures.

• The mass shooting of eight people in Piketon, Ohio last week has left more questions than answers, and authorities say they’re preparing for a long investigation. All eight victims were related and the shootings happened at three sites close to each other. Authorities say the shootings were expertly planned and executed and noted that two of the three crime scenes contained significant marijuana growing operations. Investigators have not commented on any possible link between the operations and the killings.

• The city of Cleveland has settled a lawsuit with the family of Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed in November 2014 by a Cleveland police officer. The family will get $6 million from the city. A Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to indict officer Timothy Loehmann in that incident. Loehmann leapt from a police cruiser that had stopped feet away from Rice at a Cleveland playground and almost immediately shot him. Rice, 12, had been playing with a toy pistol on the playground when a neighbor called the police. The caller stipulated the gun was probably fake, but dispatchers did not relay that information to officers.

• Do you ever think, "jeez, more papers should be like The Cincinnati Enquirer?" You may be in luck. Gannett, the national corporation that owns the Enquirer as well as USA Today and a number of other publications, has made an offer to buy Tribune Publishing, another large national newspaper chain. Gannett has offered $815 million for the chain, which includes The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers.

• Ohio Gov. John Kasich and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, both GOP presidential primary hopefuls, will collaborate in future primaries to try and trip up frontrunner Donald Trump as he charges toward the party’s nomination. The Kasich campaign has indicated it will focus efforts on New Mexico and Oregon while staying out of Indiana in a move to help Cruz best Trump in that state. In return, Cruz has agreed to stay out of the two western states in a bid to give Kasich the edge over Trump there. The move — which will present Trump with one focused opponent in upcoming contests, instead of the split field he’s faced up to this point — seems calculated toward denying him the 1,137 delegates needed to clinch the nomination outright. Kasich in particular is counting on a contested convention in July, since he badly trails in the delegate count in the current contest.

I'm out. Tweet at your boy or send a good old fashioned email my way.

]]>
<![CDATA[CityBeat Wins National Reporting Award]]> The Society of Professional Journalists announced the winners of its national Sigma Delta Chi awards today, and CityBeat is among the publications receiving recognition. 

Nick Swartsell’s August 26, 2015 cover story, “That Which Divides Us,” won in the Public Service category for non-daily publications.

That story explored economic segregation in Cincinnati and has helped foster an ongoing conversation around race and economic issues here.

Amid controversy around police shootings of unarmed African Americans and subsequent civil unrest in cities like Baltimore and Chicago, Swartsell delved into the persistent socioeconomic factors that feed into America’s deep problems with race. The site of profound civil unrest in 2001 over the police shooting of Timothy Thomas, Cincinnati is, unfortunately, a prime place in which to examine these tensions. 

Swartsell analyzed 2010 Census and 2011-2014 American Community Survey data on a neighborhood level, even down to the Census tract in some cases, to present a picture of a city starkly segregated by class and race, where tensions bubble up from the deep crevices of inequality separating blacks and whites. The article also incorporated overall median income statistics, infant mortality rates and other data illustrating the negative impacts of economic segregation in a city where the nine lowest-income neighborhoods are predominantly African American and the nine highest-income are predominantly, in many cases more than 90 percent, white.

“That Which Divides Us” traced the history of economic segregation in Cincinnati and comparable cities across the country, exploring federal policies, inaction by city officials and other factors to explain why so many African Americans in Cincinnati grow up and remain in a cycle of poverty, cordoned off in crumbling and over-policed neighborhoods or caught up in the justice system’s revolving doors.

Finally, the article traced signs of hope — new efforts by activists and officials to bring economic opportunities to a city that the Brookings Institute recently ranked 81st in the nation in terms of racially inclusive economic prosperity.

The story was also recognized by national long-form journalism site Longreads.com, which named it a top pick last year.

The Sigma Delta Chi awards highlight the best professional journalism from publications around the country. News outlets including the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times are among the 84 Sigma Delta Chi award winners in various newspaper, magazine, television and radio categories chosen from almost 1,500 entries this year.

The award, established in 1932, is named for the original moniker of the SPJ. The 107-year-old organization is the oldest and one of the largest in the United States representing professional journalists.

This is CityBeat’s first time winning the award. The complete list of winners can be found here
]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Good morning all. Or, well, let's be honest with ourselves: This is a not good morning. Prince is dead. The Reds lost yesterday in what appears to be the highest-scoring no-hitter since the 1880s. There’s some rain in the forecast today. Ouch.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the news if you can bear it.

• Hey, here’s something positive. The population of Cincinnati’s urban core — Over-the-Rhine, downtown, Pendleton and the East End — has increased, according to a new report from Downtown Cincinnati Inc. The Business Courier has the details on that study, but the upshot is that about 400 more people lived in the city’s 45202 ZIP code last year than did in 2014, and the population there is now almost 16,000. There are certainly downsides to this growth, as we explore in this week’s news feature. But the uptick in population signals the continued reversal in a historic trend that saw people leaving the urban core for decades.

• Contenders in the upcoming Hamilton County Commissioners race — Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus and Republican incumbent Dennis Deters (that’s a lot of Ds) — just released their post-primary fundraising totals. Driehaus brought in $64,000 for the fundraising period, bringing her total take so far up to $308,000, according to her campaign. The campaign says that 65 percent of that take came from donors pledging $100 or less. Deters meanwhile, has raised about $92,000 so far, according to WCPO, but most of that has come since the new year. Many expect the race to be one of the most expensive ever, with Driehaus saying she hopes to raise $1 million before all is said and done. Control of the currently Republican-led county commission hangs in the balance with the unusually competitive race.

• Republic Street in Over-the-Rhine won’t be getting a rooftop deck bar, a city board ruled yesterday. The Lang Thang Group, which runs neighborhood restaurants Quan Hapa and Pho Lang Thang, wanted to build the deck as part of its planned Crown & Key bar at 1332 Republic St. Residents there didn’t oppose the bar, but did take issue with the deck, which they feared would cause unwelcome noise and other detriments to quality of life in the neighborhood. A residents group that pushed back against the deck also cited ways in which the plan violated historic conservation guidelines in the neighborhood. The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals agreed with residents. The Lang Thang Group can challenge that decision in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas if it chooses.

• Cincinnati Public Schools will remake seven of its neighborhood schools next year. The remakes are part one of a larger plan called Vision 2020 to make CPS more attractive by adding additional programs to schools. Next year, schools like Chase School in Northside will get expanded arts and culture offerings, while others like Rothenberg Academy in Over-the-Rhine will get student entrepreneurship classes.

• Finally, as the GOP presidential primary continues to get weirder and more chaotic, national media is looking more at Ohio Gov. John Kasich to… well, I guess try to figure out what he’s thinking. Kasich trails primary frontrunner Donald Trump and second-placer U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz badly in the race’s delegate count, and there's no mathematical way for him to win the nomination aside from a contested convention. Party leaders and pundits have been pushing for Kasich to leave the race for months. But he’s still going, and that’s newsworthy, I suppose. Earlier this week, Kasich met with the editorial board of the Washington Post for an extended interview, where he laid out his reasons for staying in the race. I’ll leave you with a key quote from Kasich.

“The last poll that we saw up there I was running five points behind Hillary. Five. Trump was getting slaughtered. I mean, you guys have been watching and girl- women here have been watching the national polls. I win in the fall every time, even in that electoral deal, and Trump gets slaughtered.”

Mark this as the moment you learned that girl-women will help Kasich win that electoral deal. Send your thoughts on that knowledge-nugget, or your news tips, via e-mail or Twitter. I'm out.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News & Stuff]]> Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s unlikely road to the GOP presidential nomination took yet another hit in New York on Tuesday. While Kasich topped Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, finishing second, his 25 percent only yielded four delegates. Frontrunner Donald Trump took just over 60 percent of the votes, for 89.

Back in Ohio, the Democratic Party is running ads bashing Kasich for wasting taxpayer money traveling across the country to be part of the GOP primary show. State Dems say Kasich has spent 177 days outside Ohio and that his campaign has cost $350,000 of public funding.

Politifact looked into the data and suggests that number could be more like $400,000.

State funds from the public safety department’s non-highway program, which includes the governor’s security detail, is likely paying for rental cars, hotel rooms, flights, fuel, per diems and overtime while Kasich criss-crosses the country chasing delegates.

But the Dispatch story describes how cagey state agencies are being with these specifics. Information that was public in the years before Kasich’s run is now shielded. On payroll records, the governor’s detail was previously listed as the "executive protection unit." Officials told the Dispatch that that designation that has been dropped to shield the troopers’ identities.

• Behind this relatively callous headline is the story of a local community with so little money it can’t pay its bill for Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies to patrol. Lincoln Heights might have to disband, though nearby communities aren’t going to be super excited to absorb the village because of its financial troubles.

• The era of “Big Weed” is fast approaching, as private entities salivate over the revenue numbers coming out of places that have some sort of legal pot. Some are concerned that profiteers might put their own interests ahead of the public’s — marijuana is typically being legalized for medicinal purposes before recreational — and some say there’s reason to think marijuana opponents are helping open the door for the bad people to take over the industry.

• Andrew Jackson doesn’t have a very good reputation among people who recognized United States’ imperialistic and genocidal history, particularly his large part in it. America’s seventh president yesterday was booted from the front of the $20 bill, replaced by abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Jackson will still appear on the back of the note, along with an image of the White House.

Here’s how some racists are reacting to the news.

• England is warning tourists about the discrimination LGBT people could face if they visit America’s grand state of North Carolina.

• Speaking of discrimination against gay people in the 21st century after the Supreme Court has legalized gay marriage, Kim Davis still wants her religious freedom to allow her to impose her beliefs on other people. A federal appeals court won’t take her lawsuit, however, dismissing her argument that she shouldn’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

• The news is apparently full of bigots and homophobes taking L’s today. Former Major League Baseball star Curt Shilling can now add “former” to his title as an analyst for ESPN — he was fired yesterday for the latest in a series of ridiculous comments, social media posts and defenses of offensive memes. Here’s the latest one.

Here’s a little bit about what got Shilling to this point, via Deadspin:

This was far from the first time Schilling crossed a line at ESPN. Two months ago, he said Hillary Clinton “should be buried under a jail somewhere.” Three months ago, Schilling joked about being fired from ESPN for his donation to Ben Carson. Seven months ago, ESPN had nothing to say about Schilling posting insane memes on Facebook. Eight months ago, Schilling tweeted a meme comparing Muslims and Nazis, and was suspended for it. Shortly after that, he emailed a long, strange rant to a blogger to clarify his thoughts about Muslims and Nazis, and was suspended for the rest of the season.

When the easiest way to find information about someone is to google “______ is an asshole,” you know you’ve had quite a big platform to espouse terrible things. Schilling has worked for ESPN off and on since 2010.

• Speaking of sports, the Reds beat the Colorado Rocky Mountains again yesterday, but they don’t know which relief pitcher to trust in the ninth inning going forward because so many have metaphorically set leads on fire during the first couple weeks of the season.

]]>
<![CDATA[Task Force Unveils New Initatives Aimed at Reducing Campus Sexual Assault]]>

A task force created by City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld unveiled new initiatives at a Tuesday press conference aimed at better supporting survivors and educating the community about sexual assault. 

The effort, called the Task Force Reduce Campus Gender-Based Violence, involved eight months of concerned parties working together to come up with ways the city can reduce campus sexual assault and better aid survivors. Participants included the Cincinnati Police Department, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Cincinnati Public Schools, local nonprofits, university students and sexual assault survivors.

As chair of Council's Education and Entrepreneurship Committee, Sittenfeld said he saw sexual assault as a disruption to a student's right to education.  

"Last fall, Cincinnati became one of the first and only cities in the country to convene a city wide task force to address reducing gender-based violence, especially on and around our college campuses," Sittenfeld said, "and we've been developing community-specific best practices around awareness and prevention, survivor support, and policies and protocols." 

Kristin Shrimplin is the executive director of nonprofit Women Helping Women and co-chaired the task force. She introduced the city-wide gender-based violence awareness campaign called, "It's On Us, Cincinnati." 

Based off of the national "It's On Us" initiative created by President Barack Obama in 2014, the campaign focuses on educating and engaging the general public about gender-based violence by having people sign a pledge to make a personal commitment to help end sexual assault on campus.  

"This campaign is about energizing and educating the community and surrounding students about what gender-based violence is," Shrimplin said, "how it impacts all of us and how we all have a role in ending it, and supporting those students who have already experience such violence." 

Kate Lawson,  chief Title IX officer for Xavier University, who also co-chaired the task force, said members also developed and launched a one-stop city web portal that will include information for survivors and the community on support services. The portal will also feature videos from task force members dispelling common myths and misconceptions associated with sexual assault. 

Task Force members Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, Xavier President Michael J. Graham and University of Cincinnati Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Beverly Davenport also spoke at the conference about the importance of the new initiatives and newly established cooperation between community resources. 

In recent years the prevalence of sexual assault on campus has been a growing concern nationwide for universities. 

A 2015 National Sexual Violence Resource Center Report found that one in five college women and one in 16 college men will experience some form of attempted form of sexual assault as a college student. 

Kristen Meyer of Oakley said when she sexually assaulted five years ago just before her sophomore year at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, the university's police department did little to support her. 

"I was told this was happening every weekend on campus, and I was also told that 70 percent of rapes go unreported," said Meyer, who was visibly emotional while recounting the experience. "On top of that, I was told this process would be grueling. That's when I realized this crime is shrouded in silence, and it incriminates the victims rather than the offenders." 

Meyer said the experience led to pushback from her friends and members of the small campus community. She developed severe anxiety and depression from the assault and aftermath and eventually dropped out of school. 

Meyer's speech at the end of the conference was abruptly interrupted when Sittenfeld collapsed about 25 minutes into it. Medics quickly tended to him, and he said later that the incident was caused by overheating and having low-blood sugar. Sittenfeld attended other meetings later in the day.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News & Stuff]]>

City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld suffered a scare yesterday when he collapsed during a press conference at City Hall. Medics quickly tended to the councilman and former Senate candidate, who later said he was simply overheated and had low blood sugar.

Sittenfeld said he’ll get the A/C pumped up at City Hall and will be fine.


The incident occurred toward the end of a press conference to announce a new city-wide initiative intended to combat sexual assault on campus.


• On Monday, a group working on recommendations for the city to help combat violent crime announced its findings to a City Council committee.


Spearheaded by City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, the Violence Prevention Working Group was created in late 2014 when Council cut $400,000 from the city’s Human Services Fund dedicated to violence prevention. The group has been working with neighborhoods and nonprofits to determine effective paths forward.


Participants suggested looking at violent crime as a public health problem and performing a sort of intervention for children who are sometimes being shaped by adults involved in violence.

Working group members from the Cincinnati Health Department, the Cincinnati Police Department and local nonprofit the GLAD House recommended that the city provide $500,000 toward violence prevention to be matched with $250,000 in private funding, appoint a representative from CPD to the Human Services Advisory Council and support the appointment of one organization to serve as the backbone of the plan.

CityBeat covered the announcement in more detail here.


• Walnut Hills High School and Wyoming High School ranked first and second, respectively, in U.S. News and World Report’s latest Ohio high school rankings. Cincinnati in total has five of the top 10 Ohio schools, while Northern Kentucky has four of the top 10 in that state. 


• In bad school news, Miami University suspended two fraternities for hazing. Miami reportedly investigated 21 hazing allegations in February at 12 sororities and fraternities. Bad college kids.  


• Local air quality is pretty bad, but it’s improving according to an annual air quality report by the American Lung Association.


• Cincinnati parking meter revenues are up, which is a common occurrence after raising rates and increasing hours of enforcement. Assistant City Manager John Juech says the city is gleaning a lot of information from the newer smart meters, such as where people park a lot and where they don’t. Revenues are up 60 percent, the city says.


• Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won their home state primaries in New York yesterday. You don’t have to be a delegate math wizard to realize America is one big step closer to a Clinton-Trump presidential race, but here’s the requisite note from the Washington Post.

Trump’s victory puts him closer to clinching the GOP nomination and should at least temporarily quell speculation that he will fall short of the votes needed before the July convention.


Clinton held a comfortable lead throughout the campaign and her victory makes it near-mathematically impossible for Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) to overtake her lead in the race for convention delegates.

But is Trump’s jet still registered to fly?


• Vox explains why 4/20 is national weed day. One theory involves high school students getting high every day at 4:20 p.m. and then using 4/20 as a code word. Stoners are extremely creative.


• The Reds played a team with a dumb name from Colorado last night, beating the Mountains 4-3 and stealing five bases in a single inning.

]]>
<![CDATA[Working Group Presents Recommendations for Reducing Violent Crime]]>

A group working to craft recommendations for a long-term strategy for reducing violent crime in the city presented its findings to City Council's Human Services, Youth and Arts Committee on Monday. 

The Violence Prevention Working Group, initiated by City Council, was formed in November 2014 when council removed $400,000 from the Human Services Fund dedicated to violence-prevention work. Creating a group dedicated to finding a holistic approach to breaking the cycle of violent crime, along with additional prevention efforts, was part of that change-up.

The Violence Prevention Working Group was spearheaded by Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who co-chaired the initiative with Vice Mayor David Mann. Simpson says the city's funding stream dedicated to targeting violent crime had not been following a long-term, comprehensive strategy.  

"The magic of the model as well is that it's not a law enforcement only model, although law enforcement is a part of it and essential to it," Simpson said on Monday. "It's also a health-department focused model and a community-based model."

Four sessions brought together 36 participants from city organizations and community nonprofitssuch as Cincinnati Public Schools, United Way and the Greater Cincinnati Foundationin neighborhoods that have experienced high rates of violent crime. They were held from October of last year to March of this year — two in South Avondale and one each in the West End and Westwood. 

The city has seen a recent increase in violent crime, particularly homicides, which are up 13 percent this year, according to statistics from the Cincinnati Police Department. 

Working group members from the Cincinnati Health Department, the Cincinnati Police Department and local nonprofit the GLAD House recommended that the city provide $500,000 toward violence prevention to be matched with $250,000 in private funding, appoint a representative from CPD to the Human Services Advisory Council and support the appointment of one organization to serve as the backbone of the plan.

The plan's main strategies focus on efforts to engage the entire community and direct services toward early intervention initiatives for at-risk children and their parents. 

Camille Jones, the assistant health commissioner at the Cincinnati Department of Health, presented research that tied youth delinquency behavior to 20 environmental factors. The strongest indicators were child maltreatment, harsh parenting, parental drug use and adolescent substance abuse. 

Jones discussed the concept of looking at violent crime as a public health problem, treating it as if it were a contagious disease that could be passed from person to person, especially when someone is repeatedly exposed to it, such as a child. 

Georgine Gerry, executive director of the RAND House, which provides mental health services to children, agreed there needs to be a community-wide intervention for the city's kids. 

"The focus needs to be on the adults who help shape those youth: the parents, the families and the community members," Getty said. 

Cincinnati Police Department District 4 Captain Maris Herold discussed the department's Place-Based Investigations of Violent Offender Territories, or PIVOT, initiative that it launched in February 

The PIVOT approach focuses on tackling the city's long-standing crime "hot spots" and focuses on carefully monitoring the locations and known offenders' networks through data, rather than increasing police in those particular locations. 

Herold said the hot spots are typically very small areas often amounting to a single address. They account for just 1.4 percent of Cincinnati's area, and increases in law enforcement to those areas actually did more to strain police-community relations with law abiding residents than prevent crime in the long run.

"Ninety-nine percent, probably even higher, of people in a hot spot are just trying to get by and do the right thing,"  Herold says. 

Councilman Wendell Young, who spoke after the group had concluded its presentation, said it is time for the entire community to step up. 

"I see this as the problem I always saw it as, a citywide problem," he said.  

Simpson says the plan will eventually be presented to the full Council.]]>
<![CDATA[Sittenfeld OK After Collapsing During Press Conference]]>

City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld collapsed this morning during a press conference at City Hall. 

Medics arrived quickly to assist the councilman, who was unconscious and reportedly having difficulty breathing at first. Sittenfeld was seen standing, talking and smiling in the third floor conference room where the event was being held within 20 minutes.

Sittenfeld appeared unalarmed when he addressed the various members of the press in the hall about 25 minutes after he fell. It's unclear why he collapsed, but Sittenfeld said he thought he was overheated with low blood sugar.

"We'll make sure the AC is pumped up a little more," he said. 

The incident happened about 25 minutes into a press conference announcing a new city-wide initiative to combat sexual assault on campus. Sittenfeld was holding the event with about 20 members of his Task Force to Reduce Campus Gender-Based Violence, which he created last year.

Sexual assault survivor Kristen Meyer was speaking at the podium when Sittenfeld, who was standing off to her left, suddenly collapsed. The councilman's staff and members of the task force, which included Cincinnati Police Department Chief Elliot Isaac, ushered bystanders out of the room and into the hallway while assisting Sittenfeld. Emergency medical technicians arrived to the closed room about five minutes after, but stayed for only 10 minutes. People leaving the room reported Sittenfeld was OK about 15 minutes after the fall. 

Sittenfeld said he did not plan on seeing a doctor and will continue on with his scheduled day, which includes chairing the Education and Entrepreneurship Committee meeting at 2 p.m.  

Around 11:30 a.m., Sittenfeld announced on Twitter that he is doing fine. 

"Hi everyone, glad to report I'm doing fine. Got over-heated and passed out. Sorry for causing a stir — now everyone get back to work!" 
]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News & Stuff]]> Mayor John Cranley yesterday offered his support for involving the local NAACP in ongoing talks between the University of Cincinnati Police Department and Cincinnati Police Department, but it wasn't necessarily the do-gooder tale it might seem. At least that's how the NAACP sees it.

UCPD has been mired in issues since the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose by UCPD officer Ray Tensing last year, including revelations that its former chief encouraged officers to increase enforcement within a "no-fly zone" and then mislead investigators after the shooting. Stops increased by 400 percent during the year leading up to the July 19 shooting of DuBose.

Rather than graciously accepting the invitation, however, Cincinnati NAACP President Rob Richardson, Sr. questioned the mayor’s motives, The Enquirer reported yesterday. Richardson, Sr.’s son, Rob Richardson, Jr., is the UC Board of Trustees chairman who some believe could be mulling a mayoral run next year.

Richardson, Sr. says he hasn’t heard from the mayor about many other issues and suggested that Cranley could be playing politics.

In true Cranley fashion, the mayor said that surely is not the case, then offered a well-crafted sound bite that kind of sounds otherwise:

"If the NAACP doesn't think this is important enough to be involved, then that speaks volumes given that his son is the chairman of the UC board," Cranley said. "If the NAACP doesn't want to be involved, that's fine. We can ask the Cincinnati Black United Front and local National Action Network, and the invitation is always open for the NAACP."

• In other clearly non-politically related news, the Historic Conservation Board yesterday rescheduled the vote on whether or not the Joseph Auto Group family will be allowed to demolish the historic Dennison Hotel building on Main Street. 

Joseph’s attorneys had asked for more time to respond to a report issued by Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, who was highly skeptical of their demolition application.

That doesn’t mean Johnson can single-handedly stop it, however.

The conservation board is comprised of seven members, five of whom were recent appointments made on Mayor John Cranley's watch. Among those appointments, made by City Manager Harry Black, is developer Shree Kulkarni. The developer in the past has butted heads with the very board on which he now sits — because, as we noted in Morning News yesterday, he wanted to tear down historic buildings on Fifth Street to build a parking lot.

The vote has been rescheduled for May 26.

• Meanwhile, The Enquirer has the details of infighting among the Joseph family itself. Sixty-four-year-old Marie Joseph has sued big brother and Joseph Auto Group CEO Ron Joseph, accusing him of cutting his siblings out while consolidating the company’s holdings.

Apparently, this is not the first time these two Josephs have fought it out in court. The Enquirer detailed a few other rich people problems plaguing the siblings in this paragraph:

“Pineridge LLC, an entity controlled by Ron Joseph and his wife Marcia, filed a lawsuit in Hamilton County Municipal Court last year to evict Marie Joseph and her son Derek from a Mount Lookout home it planned to sell. The lawsuit claimed she'd rebuffed requests to leave since summer 2014. The home is located one block from where Ron and Marcia Joseph live.”

You can read more about all of this here.

• Hamilton County could finally be on track to update its outdated crime lab. County Commissioners yesterday accepted a proposal to build a new facility, which could cost around $40 million.

Attempts to get a plan approved that would have renovated a former hospital in Mount Airy fell through. Coroner Lackshmi Sammarco has long advocated for a new facility, as the department currently works in a 40-year-old building in need of major upgrades, which she says inhibits productivity. The coroner’s office tests all of the county’s DNA, drug, ballistics and other forensic cases, as well as similar services for more than a dozen other municipalities.

• The Banks has some new tenants lined up, including a luxury bowling alley and live music venue.

• The Supreme Court seems to be divided on President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which would temporarily grant quasi-legal status to undocumented immigrants whose children were born in the U.S. Around 4 million people could be shielded from deportation if it is upheld.

The court could end up split 4-4, however, which would uphold a lower court’s decision that has kept the actions from going into effect. Doubt this sort of thing has anything to do with why Republicans refuse to allow a confirmation hearing for Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland no matter how bad it makes them look.

• The sponsor of a controversial Tennessee transgender bill has pulled it until at least next year. Advocates from both sides are geared up for a fight over the legislation, which would require students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender at birth. Perhaps the decision to table it for now might have something to do with the $1.3 billion in Title IX funding the state’s attorney general says could be in jeopardy if it passes.

• Also in Tennessee, family movie night at the Tennessee Titans football stadium got a lot more fun when the field’s sprinkler system came on.

• Also in bathroom news, hand dryers are apparently spraying viruses up into the air, though manufacturers note that this wouldn’t happen if people would wash their hands correctly before drying them with their space-age technology.

• This guy wants to know why society spends tax money on things that not everyone uses. In this case, he’s mad about the $4.2 million a year the city will pay to operate the streetcar, but probably not upset about things like this.

]]>
<![CDATA[Conservation Board Reschedules Dennison Vote]]> The fight over the 124-year-old Dennison Hotel building on Main Street will continue a little longer after the Cincinnati Historic Conservation Board today tabled a vote on an application to tear down the Dennison brought by its owners, Columbia REI, LLC. The vote was rescheduled for 1 p.m. May 26.

Columbia’s attorneys say the group needs time to respond to a report issued by Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, who was highly skeptical of their demolition application. 

“The applicant has not provided credible evidence that they cannot reuse the building nor can reasonable economic return be gained from the use of all or part of the building proposed for demolition,” Johnson wrote in that report, released April 14.

The conservation board has the final vote on the demolition, however. The board set filing deadlines for various new documents in relation to the case for May 2, May 11 and May 18.

Attorney Sean Suder, who is representing the Cincinnati Preservation Association and the Cincinnati Preservation Collective in the opposition to the demolition, said those groups welcome the extra time and hope it will lead to a change of heart for Columbia and a deal to save the building.

That would be a big change in direction for the developer. Attorneys for Columbia, which is run by influential auto dealership magnates the Joseph family, say the building is outdated, crumbling and dangerous.

The Historic Conservation Board had planned to vote today on whether the Josephs could tear the Dennison down, potentially to develop a new corporate campus for a Fortune 500 company, though no company has signed onto that plan yet.

Columbia's attorneys on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Johnson's recommendation not to OK Columbia's plan.

CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed here.

]]>
<![CDATA[Morning News & Stuff]]> The next step in the saga of auto magnate Joseph Auto Group's attempt to tear down a historic Main Street building will take place today when the Historic Conservation Board meets at 4 p.m.

The Board had planned to vote today on a request to demolish the Dennison Hotel building at 716 Main St., but attorneys for Columbia REI, LLC, the development arm of the Joseph family, on Friday asked the Board to delay the vote in order to have a hearing on the matter. Their request came the day after Conservation Board staff recommended denying the demolition request for a variety of factors, including evidence that the Joseph family has not attempted to sell or lease the building to someone who would redevelop it, an engineering report that says the building could still be used for residential purposes and documents showing that the Joseph family purchased the property with the intention of demolishing it for redevelopment. Such considerations are commonly undertaken by the Historic Conservation Board regarding buildings in a historic area like the Eastern Manufacturing and Warehouse District.

Of course, the city staff report, written by Urban Conservator Beth Johnson, will not ultimately decide the fate of the building, which was designed by noted architect Samuel Hannaford and still boasts a “ghost sign” noting its “105 rooms and 60 baths.” That would be the Historic Conservation Board itself, which is comprised of seven members, five of whom were recent appointments made on Mayor John Cranley's watch. The most controversial of the appointments is developer Shree Kulkarni, who in the past has butted heads with the very board on which he now sits — because he wanted to tear down historic buildings on Fifth Street to build a parking lot.

CityBeat reported on Friday’s request here, Thursday’s urban conservator recommendation here and details of documents showing that the Joseph family bought the building to block low-income housing from being developed.

One noteworthy player in all this is 3CDC, which purchased the building in 2013 for $1.3 million then sold it to Columbia one month later for $744,000.

Preservationists hoping to save the building hosted a press conference on Friday. They expect a big crowd at today's meeting and what will likely be a contentious future hearing, should things go that far. The Save the Dennison Facebook page, which you can find here, has links to more background, including the following Cincinnati Enquirer article from 1987 when the Joseph family smashed up some other downtown buildings, leaving parking lots in their wake.


Gov. John Kasich is busy on the presidential campaign trail explaining his own unique versions of delegate math that could somehow lead to a convoluted GOP convention awarding him the nomination, and sometimes he eats pizza with a fork. Last week, Kasich said he wouldn’t be inclined to sign any law banning conversion therapy aimed at un-gaying homosexuals and that he had never heard of Leelah Alcorn.

• Last week, Kasich offered a tip for young women concerned with sexual assault: “Don’t go to parties where there’s a lot of alcohol.”

• NPR today unveiled its “School Money” project, a collaboration with 20 member station reporters looking at education funding in public schools. Part 1 of the series considers academic spending per student, finding a stark difference in the academic resources at schools in low-income neighborhoods and those in more affluent parts of America’s cities.

The following is a snapshot of educational realities in public districts, according to NPR:

Ridge's two elementary campuses and one middle school sit along Chicago's southern edge. Roughly two-thirds of its students come from low-income families, and a third are learning English as a second language.

Here, one nurse commutes between three schools, and the two elementary schools share an art teacher and a music teacher. They spend the first half of the year at different schools, then, come January, box up their supplies and swap classrooms.

"We don't have a lot of the extra things that other districts may have, simply because we can't afford them," says Ridge Superintendent Kevin Russell.

One of those other districts sits less than an hour north, in Chicago's affluent suburbs, nestled into a warren of corporate offices: Rondout School, the only campus in Rondout District 72.

It has 22 teachers and 145 students, and spent $28,639 on each one of them.

What does that look like?

Class sizes in Rondout are small, and every student has an individualized learning plan. Nearly all teachers have a decade of experience and earn, on average, more than $90,000. Kids have at least one daily break for "mindful movement," and lunch is cooked on-site, including a daily vegetarian option.

Embedded inside the NPR project is the following line, which I feel like could use a bit more explanation: "In Ohio, which is our best guess for the state you’re currently in, the average district spends $12,018 per student, similar to the nationwide average. You can explore further or search for a district by name below." (Emphasis by NPR.)

Is Kai Rydssdal looking in your window right now? Are you sure?

The Supreme Court today will consider President Obama’s executive action on immigration. Obama’s legislation would grant temporary legal status to parents of children who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. A collection of states, led by Texas, sued over the executive action, which Obama created in response to the House’s inaction on a Senate-passed immigration reform bill.

• Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz last week unveiled a new idea — require money up-front from anyone proposing longer voting hours. Judges at times allow polls to stay open past scheduled closing time. Seitz’s bill, which he says has nine co-sponsors, would also allow an immediate appeal of a judge granting longer hours.

• A local woman is going to appear on a new reality show. I don't know what it is, but you should watch it!

• A new study says being a reporter is the worst job… three years in a row.

• An octopus dipped out of an aquarium in New Zealand, got into a drain pipe and squirmed out into the ocean toward freedom.

• The Reds return home tonight to host the Colorado Rockies after losing five of six on their road trip to Chicago and St. Louis. But don’t worry — Dan Straily is joining the rotation. Seriously, I think he’s a good baseball player.

CityBeat reporters Nick Swartsell and Natalie Krebs will be around town today, Nick at the Historic Conservation Board meeting and Natalie at a City Hall presentation for the Violence Prevention Working Group. Follow them on Twitter: @nswartsell / @natalie_krebs.

]]>
<![CDATA[Developer Asks Historic Conservation Board to Delay Dennison Demolition Vote]]> Attorneys for Columbia REI, LLC have asked the city's Historic Conservation Board to delay a vote on their request to demolish the Dennison building at 716 Main St. downtown.

The demolition request is on the board's upcoming Monday meeting agenda, but the developers have asked the board to table it and reschedule the vote.

That request comes after the city's Urban Conservator Beth Johnson issued a report yesterday that rejected the developer's claim thatit  cannot reuse the building and that restoring or preserving the building with result in a negative financial return.

Historic preservation advocates and affordable housing activists both have rallied around the building, which was designed by noted Cincinnati architect Samuel Hannaford's firm and, until five years ago, contained 114 units of single-room occupancy affordable housing. The Cincinnati Preservation Collective, the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, City Councilman Chris Seelbach and others held a press conference today outside the building decrying attempts to tear it down and calling for more affordable housing in the central business district.

The Dennison was the last of more than 20 downtown buildings containing such housing. The building was slated for redevelopment by Model Group for 63 units of permanent supportive housing to be operated by The Talbert House in 2013. However, that project fell through and the building was purchased by Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation affiliate CBD Holdings for $1.3 million that year. 3CDC then sold the building to Columbia, owned by the influential Joseph Automotive Group family, for $740,000 a month later. In filings to the Historic Conservation Board, attorneys for the Joseph family have indicated they purchased the property at least in part out of concern that supportive housing would devalue other properties it holds in the area.

It is unclear when the vote on the building will be rescheduled. Preservation activist Derek Bauman called the request by Columbia "shenanigans" and wondered if the vote would be rescheduled for a less-convenient time.

Columbia says the building is decrepit and unsafe, and says it would like to use the land it occupies as part of a large-scale development that would provide office space for an as-yet-undetermined Fortune 500 company.

]]>