BEST HAPPY ENDING TO A CONTENTIOUS HISTORIC CONSERVATION BATTLE
Last year, it looked like efforts to renovate revered Cincinnati landmark Music Hall were stuck. Hamilton County Commissioners scuttled an attempt to include the building, built in 1887, in a countywide tax levy that is currently raising funds for Union Terminal’s big fix. But then Ohio awarded the building $25 million in historic preservation tax credits, and private donors stepped up in a big way, helping get the building closer to a fully funded $123 million renovation. That work will kick off in earnest this summer, and the only bad part is we won’t be able to enjoy its amazing interior while taking in a Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra or Pops concert during the process. Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513-621-2787, cincinnatiarts.org.
BEST WAY TO POORLY FIRE YOUR POLICE CHIEF
BEST BIKE PROJECTS THAT STILL HAVEN’T HAPPENED
BEST PROSPECT FOR BIG CHANGE ON THE HAMILTON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
It’s no secret: Hamilton County and the city of Cincinnati these days are a lot more CeeLo Green (the uh, less polite version of his big hit “Forget You” seems a pretty apt soundtrack for the relationship) than Al Green (officials for the two bodies are definitely not singing “Let’s Stay Together” to each other any time soon). With everything so standoffish, it would be refreshing to see a change of pace for the commission, and the coming election seems like the right time for voters to go that route. Enter Democrat Denise Driehaus, a familiar face in Cincinnati who has made regional cooperation a centerpiece of her campaign. Beyond that, Driehaus could also tip the partisan balance of power on the commission toward Democrats for the first time in years, giving the county’s governing body a much-needed shake-up.
BEST USE OF A POPULAR OLDER BROTHER’S NAME ON THE BALLOT
Everyone knows Joe Deters. Now, not everyone likes the controversial Hamilton County prosecutor, but you’d be hard pressed to get better name recognition in a local election. His brother, Dennis Deters, seems to have recognized this and will borrow the name “Joe” — his middle name — when he appears on the ballot for Hamilton County commissioner in November. Is that weird? A little. Dennis Deters hasn’t used that name on any other official documents or election registrations. Perhaps it’s just an attempt to squeeze a little extra love from voters, who will have to choose between Deters and well-known Democrat State Rep. Denise Driehaus.
BEST PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING AT A LOCAL MUSEUM
BEST PARANOID ATTEMPT BY a CITY COUNCIL MEMBER TO KEEP HOMELESS PEOPLE AWAY FROM SCHOOLS
If you blinked, you missed it, but it’s worth recalling Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman’s weird move trying to get panhandling banned outside Cincinnati schools. That in and of itself seems par for the course for poverty-phobic conservatives, but it was Smitherman’s reasoning that raised some eyebrows. The independent conservative councilman cited school shootings and his wish that no strangers approach his kids, even his 17-year-old son, without his permission as he pursued the proposed ordinance. Luckily, it went nowhere, probably because other council members heeded the reams of data showing that the homeless are no more likely than anyone else to pose a threat to the public.
BEST SURVIVAL STORY
Since 2009, lawmakers in Ohio have been chipping away at the legal legs on which the state’s abortion providers stand, passing ever-tighter restrictions designed to cut down the number of clinics that perform abortions here. Those new laws have led to some close calls for Cincinnati’s last remaining clinic, Planned Parenthood’s Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center. But through stubborn legal fights, the organization has been able to keep conservative lawmakers from making Cincinnati the largest metropolitan area in the country without access to a clinic, even as legislative attacks on Planned Parenthood continue. Elizabeth Campbell Medical Center, 2314 Auburn Ave., Mount Auburn, 513-287-6484, plannedparenthood.org.
BEST BRUISING DEFEAT AT THE LOCAL BALLOT BOX
BEST TERRIFYING WEED-HEADED MASCOT FOR A POLITICAL CAUSE
Oh, Buddie, we barely knew ye. The mascot for ResponsibleOhio’s ill-fated bid to make it legal to sell marijuana from 10 grow sites around the state owned by the group’s investors was… unique. Superhero costume, complete with cape? Check. Rippling musculature and skin-tight body suit? Check. Enormous and terrifying marijuana bud for a head? Of course. The reign of his dankness on college campuses and in liberal towns around the state was short lived, and by the end even his allies betrayed him. ResponsibleOhio organizer Ian James called Buddie “a mistake” in interviews after the failure of the group’s bid. But we’ll always remember that giant green face, even if only in nightmares.
BEST HISTORIC SUPREME COURT VICTORY
It finally happened, and it started right here in Cincinnati. This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court extended marriage equality to all 50 states, thanks to plaintiffs against Ohio and other states’ anti-gay marriage laws, including Jim Obergefell, Brittani Henry-Rogers and Brittni Rogers. Based on the order in which his case was filed, Obergefell’s name is in the title of the historic Supreme Court ruling, and the unassuming Over-the-Rhine resident who fought to appear on his late spouse’s death certificate has become a national icon for LGBTQ rights.
BEST ILLUSTRATION OF THE VITAL NEED FOR POLICE BODY CAMERAS
If not for a tiny camera worn by the police officer who shot him, there might be no chance of justice for Samuel DuBose. University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing pulled DuBose over in July for a missing front license plate. Shortly afterward, DuBose was dead. Tensing said his arm got stuck in DuBose’s steering wheel and he was being dragged, but the footage shows Tensing shot him with no provocation before his car started moving. Tensing was later dismissed from the force and now faces murder and manslaughter charges. In the aftermath, UC’s police department is undergoing reform, and the Cincinnati Police Department is now phasing in body cameras for all of its officers.
BEST UNFORCED POLITICAL ERROR
The national debate over Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. following horrifying attacks on Paris by extremist group ISIS was a strange thing for a mayor to weigh in on. While a bigwig here, the city’s top guy has little say over national policy around refugee resettlement — even Ohio Gov. John Kasich couldn’t really keep Syrians out of the Ohio if he wanted to. Mayor John Cranley’s press release about refugees might have been just a strange footnote if he hadn’t sided with panic-stricken conservatives freaked out about undercover terrorists infiltrating Cincinnati. In doing so, Cranley mystifyingly alienated fellow Democrats while accomplishing exactly nothing in the process.
BEST IDEA TO EXTEND EDUCATION TO MORE CINCINNATI KIDS
Hey, did you know that Cincinnati has one of the highest child poverty rates in the country? If you didn’t, you do now. What are we going to do about it? There are a few different ideas, but one with a lot of momentum right now is Preschool Promise, an initiative seeking to provide preschool to all Cincinnati Public School students. Studies show that early exposure to quality education helps boost a child’s chances of academic success and ability to climb out of poverty. While there’s much work to be done to help low-income folks suffering right now, extending preschool to all kids could be the start of a generational shift toward a more equitable Cincinnati. Preschool Promise, askpreschoolpromise.org.
BEST CONTINUING POLITICAL DRAMA KEEPING US ON THE EDGE OF OUR SEATS
BEST WEIRD, DESPERATE GRAB FOR ATTENTION
BEST CONTENTIOUS TOPIC TO DISCUSS (OR AVOID) WHILE EATING FANCY FOOD IN OTR
BEST SHADE THROWN BY A U.S. SENATOR AT OHIO’S STATE LAWMAKERS
BEST SORE LOSER
Rowan County, Ky. Clerk Kim Davis was none too happy about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage over the summer. So she exercised her God-given right: refusing to do her job. Except that’s not exactly a right when you’re a county employee taking taxpayer money while refusing to marry anyone until the gays aren’t allowed to wed anymore. Davis’ adherence to her bigotry — err, religious beliefs — landed her in jail for a few days, and Rowan County has since resumed marrying people.
BEST CITY COUNCIL EFFORT IN RESPONSE TO LEELAH ALCORN’S TRAGIC DEATH
BEST CONTINUED PUSH FOR RACIAL JUSTICE
BEST TOTAL WASTE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS
Speaking of Planned Parenthood, your tax dollars paid for something that can only be described as an extended fishing session by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. Following the release of heavily edited video footage by anti-abortion group The Center for Medical Progress purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organ tissue in Texas, DeWine launched an investigation into Ohio’s clinics. He didn’t find any illegal tissue sales, but did claim that the organization was contracting with a company that dumped fetal remains in landfills. Just a few things: The state of Ohio uses the same company, and officials in Kentucky where the landfill is located say investigators never reached out to them and that they dispute the AG’s claim. Oh, and The Center for Medical Progress? A grand jury declined to indict Planned Parenthood and instead indicted the anti-abortion activists on federal records-tampering charges.
BEST SURPRISE EXIT FROM AN ULTRA-POWERFUL PERCH
BEST TWITTER FLAME WAR
John Kasich GOP primary attention grab take two: The Ohio guv trying to tangle with reality TV star and aggressive hair piece-wearer Donald Trump on Twitter. It didn’t take a political scientist to predict that this one wouldn’t go well for Kasich, but he tried it anyway, enduring pretty awful jabs like this Trump gem: “I want to do negative ads on John Kasich, but he is so irrelevant to the race that I don’t want to waste my money.” Ouch. @realDonaldTrump; @JohnKasich.
BEST NO-BRAINER BALLOT INITIATIVE TO MAKE STATE POLITICS FAIRER
BEST EVIDENCE THAT SOMETHING’S AMISS WITH OHIO’S CHARTER SCHOOLS
BEST LONGSHOT SENATE CANDIDATE