December 22, 2022

14 Cincinnati News Stories from 2022 That We Won’t Forget Anytime Soon

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L-R: provided by Amazon; City of Cincinnati; Mary LeBus
During this weird “Are we or are we not still in a pandemic?” era, evaluating a year’s worth of news items feels a little strange. Are we still grading on a curve, or are we back to comparing current activities to 2019 and earlier? Regardless of how we classify something, a lot happened throughout Greater Cincinnati in 2022 that deserves reflection. From new people-first policies to large-scale flops to finally having a finish line in sight for Cincinnati’s worst bridge, there was plenty of news to talk about.


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The Overturning of Roe v. Wade Causes Medical, Financial and Emotional Havoc in Ohio
In a landmark decision on June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old case Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal protection of a patient’s right to decide to terminate a pregnancy. Through the decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Samuel Alito — part of a majority conservative court — wrote that the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly spell out the right to an abortion. The decision opened up the floodgates for restrictive state bills across the country — including in Ohio, which that night enacted a ban on abortions after six weeks of gestation. As of press time, the ban is paused while a court case proceeds in Hamilton County (abortions are currently legal through 20 weeks), but plenty of things happened before the reprieve. More men began getting vasectomies. Corporations pressed legislators to consider the economic implications. Cincinnati added abortion expense reimbursement to its health plan for city workers. People with non-viable pregnancies nearly died when they couldn’t get the medical care they needed. And people who did not want to be pregnant were forced to travel long distances to cities or states where reproductive care was legal and safe. That included the now-nationally famous case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and who was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion. Attorney general Dave Yost claimed the situation was a “hoax,” while Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine refused to answer questions about how the law he’d signed into practice was affecting innocent children. Meanwhile, other rights – including further bodily autonomy, being able to marry someone of a different race or the same sex, having consensual sexual activity or accessing birth control – increasingly are on the chopping block with Dobbs as precedent, legal experts say. Read CityBeat's story about what has happened since the fall of Roe.
Photo: Mary LeBus
The Overturning of Roe v. Wade Causes Medical, Financial and Emotional Havoc in Ohio
In a landmark decision on June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nearly 50-year-old case Roe v. Wade, eliminating the federal protection of a patient’s right to decide to terminate a pregnancy. Through the decision for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Justice Samuel Alito — part of a majority conservative court — wrote that the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly spell out the right to an abortion. The decision opened up the floodgates for restrictive state bills across the country — including in Ohio, which that night enacted a ban on abortions after six weeks of gestation. As of press time, the ban is paused while a court case proceeds in Hamilton County (abortions are currently legal through 20 weeks), but plenty of things happened before the reprieve. More men began getting vasectomies. Corporations pressed legislators to consider the economic implications. Cincinnati added abortion expense reimbursement to its health plan for city workers. People with non-viable pregnancies nearly died when they couldn’t get the medical care they needed. And people who did not want to be pregnant were forced to travel long distances to cities or states where reproductive care was legal and safe. That included the now-nationally famous case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and who was forced to travel to Indiana for an abortion. Attorney general Dave Yost claimed the situation was a “hoax,” while Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine refused to answer questions about how the law he’d signed into practice was affecting innocent children. Meanwhile, other rights – including further bodily autonomy, being able to marry someone of a different race or the same sex, having consensual sexual activity or accessing birth control – increasingly are on the chopping block with Dobbs as precedent, legal experts say. Read CityBeat's story about what has happened since the fall of Roe.
A Wilmington Chase Is Impossible to Ignore
There’s nothing that captures our collective attention like a good police chase, as the O.J. Simpson saga taught us in 1994. Cincinnati’s pursuit didn’t garner quite as many eyeballs as that, but it was enough to command many people’s concentration for a day. Residents in Clinton County were under lockdown on Aug. 11 as the Federal Bureau of Investigation chased an armed man who they said had tried to break into the agency's field office in Kenwood. The suspect fled north on I-71, and a variety of law enforcement partners followed him to Wilmington. The man, later identified as Ricky W. Shiffer of Columbus, traded shots with officers multiple times, including when he stopped his vehicle on Smith Road near Wilmington before hiding behind his car and beginning a standoff. Clinton County went into lockdown for all buildings within a mile. Officers said they had attempted to negotiate with Shiffer and to end the situation with "non-lethal" tactics, but it didn’t work. "The subject shot at law enforcement officers. During the incident, law enforcement also fired their weapons. At approximately 3:45 p.m., the subject was shot and is deceased," the FBI shared on Twitter. According to many news outlets, Shiffer was steeped in violent far-right rhetoric and seemed to be angry about federal officials retrieving classified federal documents from embattled former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Read CityBeat's story about the action-packed day.
Photo: Google Maps
A Wilmington Chase Is Impossible to Ignore
There’s nothing that captures our collective attention like a good police chase, as the O.J. Simpson saga taught us in 1994. Cincinnati’s pursuit didn’t garner quite as many eyeballs as that, but it was enough to command many people’s concentration for a day. Residents in Clinton County were under lockdown on Aug. 11 as the Federal Bureau of Investigation chased an armed man who they said had tried to break into the agency's field office in Kenwood. The suspect fled north on I-71, and a variety of law enforcement partners followed him to Wilmington. The man, later identified as Ricky W. Shiffer of Columbus, traded shots with officers multiple times, including when he stopped his vehicle on Smith Road near Wilmington before hiding behind his car and beginning a standoff. Clinton County went into lockdown for all buildings within a mile. Officers said they had attempted to negotiate with Shiffer and to end the situation with "non-lethal" tactics, but it didn’t work. "The subject shot at law enforcement officers. During the incident, law enforcement also fired their weapons. At approximately 3:45 p.m., the subject was shot and is deceased," the FBI shared on Twitter. According to many news outlets, Shiffer was steeped in violent far-right rhetoric and seemed to be angry about federal officials retrieving classified federal documents from embattled former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Read CityBeat's story about the action-packed day.
The City Gets a Fresh Start with New Leaders
After winning a 2021 campaign focused on progressive ideals, Aftab Pureval cemented two important firsts: Cincinnati’s first new mayor since John Cranley took office two terms prior, and the city’s first Asian-American mayor. Pureval was sworn in on Jan. 4, along with an almost entirely new Cincinnati City Council. Since then, the administration almost immediately began working on equitable actions surrounding affordable housing, economic growth, public safety and climate change. Largely centering residents who previously had been marginalized – particularly those who are Black or LGBTQ+ – the team tackled equitably procuring and distributing distributing COVID-19 tests, vaccines and other protective measures; allocated significant funding towards additional police and fire services; championed affirmation and policy action for the city’s female and LGBTQ+ employees; added millions of dollars worth of new or updated pedestrian and bicycle safety measures; and removed more barriers to affordable housing options. Like any politicians, Pureval and the new blood haven’t been perfect, but for a first year, they marked off a hell of a lot from their big to-do list. Read CityBeat's story about some of the accomplishments Pureval mentioned in his "State of the City" address.
Photo: CitiCable
The City Gets a Fresh Start with New Leaders
After winning a 2021 campaign focused on progressive ideals, Aftab Pureval cemented two important firsts: Cincinnati’s first new mayor since John Cranley took office two terms prior, and the city’s first Asian-American mayor. Pureval was sworn in on Jan. 4, along with an almost entirely new Cincinnati City Council. Since then, the administration almost immediately began working on equitable actions surrounding affordable housing, economic growth, public safety and climate change. Largely centering residents who previously had been marginalized – particularly those who are Black or LGBTQ+ – the team tackled equitably procuring and distributing distributing COVID-19 tests, vaccines and other protective measures; allocated significant funding towards additional police and fire services; championed affirmation and policy action for the city’s female and LGBTQ+ employees; added millions of dollars worth of new or updated pedestrian and bicycle safety measures; and removed more barriers to affordable housing options. Like any politicians, Pureval and the new blood haven’t been perfect, but for a first year, they marked off a hell of a lot from their big to-do list. Read CityBeat's story about some of the accomplishments Pureval mentioned in his "State of the City" address.
Dave Chappelle Reminds Us Who He Is
Comedian Dave Chappelle is Yellow Springs’ favorite son, but he hasn’t been endearing himself to everybody this year. Since releasing his Netflix special The Closer last fall, Chappelle repeatedly has been under fire for his defense of jokes that punch down instead of up – particularly jokes against the transgender community. That has continued in 2022, with the comedian making transphobic remarks after being bum-rushed during a festival stand-up set in May. Later that month, Chappelle continued sharing transphobic and homophobic wisecracks during a surprise set with John Mulaney in Columbus. When later confronted by high school students about his comments, Chappelle defended his right to say anything as part of his “art” and dismissed the teenagers’ views and their concerns for the LGBTQ+ community. In November, Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live, angering some of the show’s writers and the Anti Defamation League even before he launched into his monologue that advanced old offensive stereotypes about Jewish people “running” Hollywood. To cap things off, just this month, Chappelle invited none other than controversial Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk – who has allowed hate-based and disinformation accounts to thrive on the app once again – to the stage during a stand-up show and seemingly became confused when the crowd began to boo. It’s all good with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, though – Hastings confirmed during a recent event that he remains unbothered by Chappelle's controversies and that the streaming service would continue hosting and producing the comedian’s projects.
Read CityBeat's story about Chappelle's latest antics.
Image: Netflix video still
Dave Chappelle Reminds Us Who He Is
Comedian Dave Chappelle is Yellow Springs’ favorite son, but he hasn’t been endearing himself to everybody this year. Since releasing his Netflix special The Closer last fall, Chappelle repeatedly has been under fire for his defense of jokes that punch down instead of up – particularly jokes against the transgender community. That has continued in 2022, with the comedian making transphobic remarks after being bum-rushed during a festival stand-up set in May. Later that month, Chappelle continued sharing transphobic and homophobic wisecracks during a surprise set with John Mulaney in Columbus. When later confronted by high school students about his comments, Chappelle defended his right to say anything as part of his “art” and dismissed the teenagers’ views and their concerns for the LGBTQ+ community. In November, Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live, angering some of the show’s writers and the Anti Defamation League even before he launched into his monologue that advanced old offensive stereotypes about Jewish people “running” Hollywood. To cap things off, just this month, Chappelle invited none other than controversial Twitter and Tesla owner Elon Musk – who has allowed hate-based and disinformation accounts to thrive on the app once again – to the stage during a stand-up show and seemingly became confused when the crowd began to boo. It’s all good with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, though – Hastings confirmed during a recent event that he remains unbothered by Chappelle's controversies and that the streaming service would continue hosting and producing the comedian’s projects. Read CityBeat's story about Chappelle's latest antics.
George Clooney Takes Aim at Jim Jordan and OSU
Ohio and Kentucky both love claiming actor/producer George Clooney – and for good reason. He’s well-liked, he’s a humanitarian, he’s generally unproblematic, and he seems to hate Ohio congressman Jim Jordan almost as much as CityBeat does. Clooney, who was born in Lexington and had attended Mason schools, is working on a documentary documentary about the Ohio State University sexual abuse scandal that ran rampant from 1978 to 1998. Richard Strauss, who was Ohio State’s team physician at the time, allegedly abused members of the wrestling team, for which Jordan had been an assistant coach. Strauss also allegedly abused or raped students in other sports as well as non-athletes (the physician died by suicide in 2005). Clooney’s feature hasn’t been released as of press time, but The Hollywood Reporter said in June that HBO had grabbed the screening rights. Meanwhile, Clooney was just recognized during the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, joining soul legend Gladys Knight, Christian pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant, composer Tania León and the members of the legendary Irish rock band U2. Read CityBeat's story about Clooney's upcoming documentary.
Photos (l-r): Paul Bird, Wikimedia Commons; Congressional photo
George Clooney Takes Aim at Jim Jordan and OSU
Ohio and Kentucky both love claiming actor/producer George Clooney – and for good reason. He’s well-liked, he’s a humanitarian, he’s generally unproblematic, and he seems to hate Ohio congressman Jim Jordan almost as much as CityBeat does. Clooney, who was born in Lexington and had attended Mason schools, is working on a documentary documentary about the Ohio State University sexual abuse scandal that ran rampant from 1978 to 1998. Richard Strauss, who was Ohio State’s team physician at the time, allegedly abused members of the wrestling team, for which Jordan had been an assistant coach. Strauss also allegedly abused or raped students in other sports as well as non-athletes (the physician died by suicide in 2005). Clooney’s feature hasn’t been released as of press time, but The Hollywood Reporter said in June that HBO had grabbed the screening rights. Meanwhile, Clooney was just recognized during the 45th Kennedy Center Honors, joining soul legend Gladys Knight, Christian pop singer-songwriter Amy Grant, composer Tania León and the members of the legendary Irish rock band U2. Read CityBeat's story about Clooney's upcoming documentary.
The City Says No More In-House Racism
There are plenty of reasons to like or dislike the notion of a local police force; this year, those on the “dislike” side may have had theirs reinforced. The Cincinnati Police Department dealt with a number of instances in which officers used racist slurs while on the job. We’re not talking teensy “Oops!” moments, either (not that those should be excused). No, officers said big words. The words. Loudly. The cases of Rose Valentino (who used the N-word while patrolling near a school) and Kelly Drach (who was on the phone and used a derogatory term for people of Middle Eastern descent) particularly caught Cincinnati's attention, leading to city manager Sheryl Long implementing a new policy in October that terminates the employment of city workers who use such language.”I want to make it clear to everyone – the city's employees and our citizens – that the use of any hateful or hurtful language by our employees while they are serving the public is completely unacceptable to me,” Long said. The situation is something incoming police chief Teresa Theetge will have to contend with, as in December, Long selected Theetge to take the position after a nationwide search. Theetge has more than 32 years with the CPD and had served as interim chief since Eliot Isaac retired in March. Her swearing-in date had not been announced as of press time. Read CityBeat's story about Theetge's ascent and what she'll deal with in 2023.
Photo: Nick Swartsell
The City Says No More In-House Racism
There are plenty of reasons to like or dislike the notion of a local police force; this year, those on the “dislike” side may have had theirs reinforced. The Cincinnati Police Department dealt with a number of instances in which officers used racist slurs while on the job. We’re not talking teensy “Oops!” moments, either (not that those should be excused). No, officers said big words. The words. Loudly. The cases of Rose Valentino (who used the N-word while patrolling near a school) and Kelly Drach (who was on the phone and used a derogatory term for people of Middle Eastern descent) particularly caught Cincinnati's attention, leading to city manager Sheryl Long implementing a new policy in October that terminates the employment of city workers who use such language.”I want to make it clear to everyone – the city's employees and our citizens – that the use of any hateful or hurtful language by our employees while they are serving the public is completely unacceptable to me,” Long said. The situation is something incoming police chief Teresa Theetge will have to contend with, as in December, Long selected Theetge to take the position after a nationwide search. Theetge has more than 32 years with the CPD and had served as interim chief since Eliot Isaac retired in March. Her swearing-in date had not been announced as of press time. Read CityBeat's story about Theetge's ascent and what she'll deal with in 2023.
It’s the Year of the Union
In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – in which medical professionals, educators, retailers and restaurant staff were first hailed as heroes before quickly losing the empathy of both their employers and the public – more and more employees are figuring out what they’re worth and are speaking out for better working conditions. That’s especially true this holiday season at the Amazon Air Hub near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron. Workers at the mega-corporation's biggest airborne shipping operation are attempting to unionize to demand wages of $30 per hour, more paid time off and holiday “peak pay.” In November, Amazon’s upper management announced that there would be no “peak pay” for the 2022 holiday rush, despite last year’s incentive being an extra $2 per hour. Workers told CityBeat that shifts are longer and more strenuous than last year, too, with many full-time employees working six days a week with little advance notice now. And Amazon employees aren’t the only ones who aren’t happy – local workers at Starbucks and other big-name businesses also have unionized. Read CityBeat's latest story about the Amazon workers' efforts to unionize.
Photo: Provided by Amazon
It’s the Year of the Union
In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – in which medical professionals, educators, retailers and restaurant staff were first hailed as heroes before quickly losing the empathy of both their employers and the public – more and more employees are figuring out what they’re worth and are speaking out for better working conditions. That’s especially true this holiday season at the Amazon Air Hub near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in Hebron. Workers at the mega-corporation's biggest airborne shipping operation are attempting to unionize to demand wages of $30 per hour, more paid time off and holiday “peak pay.” In November, Amazon’s upper management announced that there would be no “peak pay” for the 2022 holiday rush, despite last year’s incentive being an extra $2 per hour. Workers told CityBeat that shifts are longer and more strenuous than last year, too, with many full-time employees working six days a week with little advance notice now. And Amazon employees aren’t the only ones who aren’t happy – local workers at Starbucks and other big-name businesses also have unionized. Read CityBeat's latest story about the Amazon workers' efforts to unionize.
Greater Cincinnati Becomes Tornado Alley
For about 20 minutes on July 6, it seemed like parts of Greater Cincinnati would be heading to Oz. Three tornadoes touched down in separate spots in Goshen, Loveland and Lake Lorelei, causing extensive damage along with several days of electrical outages. The NWS classified the Goshen tornado as an EF2, with winds of 111-135 MPH damaging or demolishing about 200 buildings and injuring three people. It measured 750 yards wide and had winds of 130 MPH at its peak. The Loveland tornado was an EF1 with winds of 86-110 MPH and caused roof, fence and tree damage. The tornado in Lake Lorelei also was an EF1, reaching 250 yards wide and traveling 3.4 miles. Lake Lorelei and Brown County in general saw significant tree damage, plus the tornado there lifted porches from homes, officials said. For days, as many as 100,000 residents were without power after the twisters, leading to volunteer recovery efforts and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declaring a state of emergency. Read CityBeat's story about the harrowing tornadoes.
Photo: Nikolas Noonan, Unsplash
Greater Cincinnati Becomes Tornado Alley
For about 20 minutes on July 6, it seemed like parts of Greater Cincinnati would be heading to Oz. Three tornadoes touched down in separate spots in Goshen, Loveland and Lake Lorelei, causing extensive damage along with several days of electrical outages. The NWS classified the Goshen tornado as an EF2, with winds of 111-135 MPH damaging or demolishing about 200 buildings and injuring three people. It measured 750 yards wide and had winds of 130 MPH at its peak. The Loveland tornado was an EF1 with winds of 86-110 MPH and caused roof, fence and tree damage. The tornado in Lake Lorelei also was an EF1, reaching 250 yards wide and traveling 3.4 miles. Lake Lorelei and Brown County in general saw significant tree damage, plus the tornado there lifted porches from homes, officials said. For days, as many as 100,000 residents were without power after the twisters, leading to volunteer recovery efforts and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine declaring a state of emergency. Read CityBeat's story about the harrowing tornadoes.
BLINK Co-founders Say ‘See Ya’
One of Cincinnati’s favorite traditions returned this year, but not without some controversy. The BLINK festival was back for its third installment in October – the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For four nights, the streets and structures of downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine and Covington were fizzing with illuminations, immersive activations and more than two million people. The 30-block sensory-tapping event welcomed back its parade, a bevy of international artists and entertainment options galore, with many local businesses joining the fun in their own ways. Cincinnati’s signature event was resuscitated – but not fully. Just one day after BLINK announced plans to expand into Northern Kentucky and 92 days before the actual event, founding partner Brave Berlin announced that it was pulling out. In a Facebook post, Brave Berlin cited "creative direction" and "open hostility" as reasons for the split. “Our presence at the leadership table was feeling to us more and more like an honorary courtesy than an active and collaborative partnership,” the company posted. Read CityBeat's story about the BLINK battle.
Photo: Catie Viox
BLINK Co-founders Say ‘See Ya’
One of Cincinnati’s favorite traditions returned this year, but not without some controversy. The BLINK festival was back for its third installment in October – the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. For four nights, the streets and structures of downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine and Covington were fizzing with illuminations, immersive activations and more than two million people. The 30-block sensory-tapping event welcomed back its parade, a bevy of international artists and entertainment options galore, with many local businesses joining the fun in their own ways. Cincinnati’s signature event was resuscitated – but not fully. Just one day after BLINK announced plans to expand into Northern Kentucky and 92 days before the actual event, founding partner Brave Berlin announced that it was pulling out. In a Facebook post, Brave Berlin cited "creative direction" and "open hostility" as reasons for the split. “Our presence at the leadership table was feeling to us more and more like an honorary courtesy than an active and collaborative partnership,” the company posted. Read CityBeat's story about the BLINK battle.