by Nick Swartsell 12.30.2014
Posted In: News at 11:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Morning News and Stuff

Questions about I-71 interchange's benefit to Avondale, Walnut Hills; high-ranking GOP Congressman spoke at white power convention; whatever you're doing on New Year's is better than this

Morning all. It’s a slow news day around here, and we’re waiting for tomorrow for our obligatory end-of-year top 10 news stories list. But there are still some interesting things happening around the city and beyond in the waning days of 2014.Police officers from around the region gathered last night to pay respects to two officers killed by a gunman in New York City earlier this month. Police from Covington, Kenton County and Campbell County attended a rally at a memorial for fallen officers in Covington to remember New York City Police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were shot while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn. A few dozen members of the public also gathered for the event. Ramos and Liu’s shooter, who had earlier murdered his girlfriend in a Baltimore suburb, later killed himself. The incident has become a controversial moment in the nation’s tense struggle over police killings of unarmed people of color. Ramos and Liu’s shooter mentioned ongoing anger over the killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed man who died after an officer placed him in a choke hold. Activists decrying police violence have said the shootings of the officers are a tragedy and have called for peaceful protests. • Cincinnati has gone all-in on a new highway interchange where I-71 passes through Walnut Hills and Avondale. But questions continue over whether that interchange will bring jobs and prosperity to some of the city’s poorest residents. It’s a tough question to answer because the project is fairly unique. Building a new highway on and off ramp in an already-built urban area is nearly unprecedented, and it’s tough to tell what will happen. That’s especially true since it’s unclear who will end up owning some of the 670 acres around the interchange officials say is blighted and in need of fresh development.  City officials tout a study by the UC Economics Center that predicts the new interchange could create 7,000 jobs. But other studies of highway development projects say it can be exceedingly hard to tell what their impacts will be. The city has more than $25 million in the project, so stakes are high. They’re also high for residents of the neighborhood — as we reported this summer, Avondale has a 40 percent poverty rate and has historically found itself cut off from the rest of the city economically and geographically. What’s more, some residents will need to move to make way for the interchange. As the project continues toward its November 2016 completion date, questions keep swirling. • State Rep. John Becker, a staunch conservative representing suburban Cincinnati, has been busy during his freshman term, according to a recent profile in the Columbus Dispatch. The former anti-abortion activist has authored tons of right wing legislation — 27 bills, in fact —  and has courted a similarly prodigious amount of controversy. He’s been outspoken about police shootings of people of color, even commenting that he “wasn’t sure who the victim was” in the case of Mike Brown, an unarmed black man shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. He has suggested that similar shootings in Cleveland and Beavercreek involved drugs or “suicide by cop.” He’s also questioned why Planned Parenthood isn’t considered a hate group. That’s all charming stuff. Becker was reelected in November and will enjoy an increasingly conservative House — Republicans will hold 65 seats there next session. Up next on his agenda: abolishing the state’s income tax. Great!• In national news, the Washington Post reports that House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, spoke at a white supremacist conference in 2002. The third most powerful member of the House appeared at a European-American Unity and Rights Organization convention in New Orleans hosted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke when he was a state representative. Representatives for Scalise’s office say he was unaware of the group’s connections with the white power movement and was in the midst of a statewide campaign rallying support for lowering taxes and other conservative ideas. “For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous,” Scalise told the Times-Picayune as the story was breaking last night.The revelation comes as Republicans look to make a new start with an expanded majority in the House and a newly minted majority in the Senate. Meanwhile, Democrats are pummeling Scalise over the revelations.• Finally, if you’re not satisfied with Cincinnati’s New Year's Eve offerings (I can’t imagine why. There are about a million things to do) take heart: Whatever you get into is probably better than watching a giant nail drop in this Pennsylvania town. It's not even metal. It's wood. The, uh, nail dropping will commemorate a historic nail factory. Get wild.

Philip Seymour Hoffman's Singular Body of Work Will Live On

0 Comments · Wednesday, February 5, 2014
“You have to make your reputation on being honest and unmerciful.” — Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous  

Columbus Art Museum’s Radical New Photo Show

0 Comments · Wednesday, April 18, 2012
One of the most acclaimed photography shows to open last year was The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League 1936-1951 at New York’s Jewish Museum. Billed as the first major Photo League retrospective in 30 years, and accompanied by a catalogue, it prompted keen, renewed interest in the subject.   

Seed Catalogs a Throwback to Yesteryear

0 Comments · Wednesday, March 7, 2012
A printed news source I can’t do without comes unfailingly in the mail: seed catalogs.  Forget Hindu, Jewish, Chinese or Gregorian new years. Delivery of the first seed catalogs starts my new year before Thanksgiving.     

A Great American Sculptor’s Show Visits Columbus

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Columbus’ Wexner Center for the Arts makes a bold statement in its current retrospective of David Smith’s work: He’s the greatest American sculptor of the 20th century. If Smith, who died in an auto accident in 1965 at age 59, is ahead of Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi or Richard Serra, I’m not sure the general public knows it.   

Collage Degrees

The Taft’s current Romare Bearden exhibit is a multi-dimensional revelation

0 Comments · Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Having recently seen a retrospective of Romare Bearden’s artwork at Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, N.C., his hometown, I wasn’t expecting the Taft Museum’s current and smaller Impressions and Improvisations: The Prints of Romare Bearden to be as impressive as it is.