New progressive group takes aim at Chabot; more news

Ohioans for Economic Opportunity, headed by a Cincinnati political consultant, has raised more than $1million to take aim at U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot

Hello, all. It’s almost the weekend. Here’s a little news update to usher out this week.

If you thought things had finally calmed down at the Cincinnati Park Board following the contentious fights in City Hall over board appointments, money from a private foundation and the like, well, not quite. Seeking records from departed finance director Marijane Klug, a lawyer for the City of Cincinnati hired a locksmith to gain admittance to a park facility in East Walnut Hills. That search by Assistant City Solicitor Terry Nestor of a basement closet in the Bettman Natural Resource Center, a city building, came without the knowledge of at least two members of the Cincinnati Parks Board of Trustees. Parks Director Wade Walcutt says that the city’s legal department approached him about a “potential personnel matter,” but that no further action has been taken and that the issue has since been closed.

• As work continues on a downtown residential tower and two-story Kroger at the corner of Walnut and Central Parkway, a nearby business district is set for some big changes. The Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation will pour about $9 million into renovations of six buildings representing 15-20 units of apartments or condos between Vine and Walnut Streets on the adjacent block of Court Street. Some businesses, including a long-running barber shop on the block called King’s Court, have been relocated due to other redevelopment in the area ahead of the new Kroger and residential tower. 

• There’s a new restaurant coming to the corner of Race and Liberty Streets in Over-the-Rhine — but it will come at the cost of an old mural many in the neighborhood love. The artwork, advertising nearby Ollie’s Trolley restaurant, features Steve Urkel, a rendering of the West End eatery and a number of other images, and will need to be removed as Senate moves onto the corner lot and renovates the vacant building the mural is on. You can read more about the mural’s history and what Senate says it will do to try and save some of the art in our story here.

• A new progressive group is zeroing in Hamilton County Clerk Aftab Pureval’s campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. Ohioans for Economic Opportunity will work to highlight Chabot’s votes opposing the Affordable Care Act ahead of the Nov. 8 contest between the incumbent and Pureval. The group, which isn’t affiliated with Pureval’s campaign, has already raised about $1 million. Its launch coincides with the one-year anniversary of a vote in which 217 House Republicans, including Chabot, moved to repeal and replace the ACA. Ohioans for Economic Opportunity’s CEO is Hyde Park resident and national political consultant Cliff Schecter.

“The people of the First District deserve to know that Congressman Chabot has voted the interests of a small group of donors at the expense of those he is supposed to represent, time and time again,” Schecter said in a news release today. “We will engage local communities as part of our grassroots campaign to hold the Congressman accountable. His votes that give breaks to the richest one percent, while placing the burden on the backs of Ohio families, will not be forgotten.”

 Finally, here’s just about the messiest primary race you could ever expect to see. We told you awhile back in this space about the battle between Republicans State Rep. Rick Perales and his primary challenger, Jocelyn Smith, who says Perales sent her inappropriate texts and fondled and choked her without her consent in a car in 2015. Perales admits to sending “flirtatious” texts, but says the relationship was consensual. He denies Smith’s other charges. Now Smith is releasing the texts, including one she claims were sent from a Republican caucus meeting. Perales claims those texts may be alterted and don’t show both sides of the story — that he and Smith were engaged in a mutually flirtatious exchange.

“It is easy to change a phone number on a cellphone,” Perales spokesman Daniel Palmer told The Cincinnati Enquirer.