Hello all. Here’s some news on this beautiful Friday. Do yourself a favor, if you can, and read this while you’re strolling about in the sunshine or sitting on a park bench.
Mayor John Cranley is dropping his first TV ad in his bid for re-election at 11 a.m. today. Cranley will debut the ad, which is said to be positive in tone and not adversarial to his opponents, at a news conference downtown. The ad is the first in what may be an avalanche of campaign spending in the mayoral contest, which is expected to be a hard-fought battle between the top two vote-getters in a May 2 primary election between Cranley, Councilwoman Yvette Simpson and former University of Cincinnati board chair Rob Richardson Jr.
• Meanwhile, Simpson has a bit of promotion of her own — an appearance in Essence magazine. Her campaign touted the recognition in the April issue of the national monthly publication aimed at black women. Simpson appears in an article called “The Year of the Black Woman Mayor,” which details her rise from a low-income family in Lincoln Heights to her mayoral bid.
• Greater Cincinnati will see a $17 million investment in affordable housing development by Huntington Bank. The Columbus-based financial institution will continue its partnership with the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing to invest $150 million throughout the state this year. Plans for the money include a new 43-unit affordable housing project and 30-unit historic preservation rehab for affordable housing in Over-the-Rhine as well as other projects like senior housing in Anderson Township. The partnership works by Huntington investing equity into affordable housing projects and receiving federal tax credits handled by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency in return.
• A new 259-unit apartment project broke ground yesterday in Mount Auburn, near Christ Hospital, but it’s a bit different than the original plans for the spot. Originally, the hilltop plot on Wellington Place in the Uptown neighborhood was going to be housing for senior former employees retiring from the University of Cincinnati. But that plan’s biggest champion was former UC President Santa Ono, who has moved on from the university, and marketing research indicated that interest in the project was mild. So instead, Uptown Properties will construct the new apartment complex, which will also include a large parking garage. The developer says that project is part of a larger investment plan totaling over $100 million. Uptown bankrolled a plan for Mount Auburn’s Auburn Ave corridor, which the city’s planning commission recently approved.
• A plan the city is mulling would mean the demolition of the historic, but crumbling, former Hudepohl brewery in Queensgate. A proposal that could go before City Council next week would give the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority $2 million in funds to tear the brewery down and redevelop the land. A memo from city administration cites concerns over health and safety issues posed by the deteriorating building.
• After a delay yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives is again scheduled to vote today on Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The American Health Care Act, championed by President Donald Trump, faces some big hurdles, however. The AHCA can only lose 20 Republican votes and still pass the House. Right now, more than 30 GOP representatives are said to oppose the plan, including some local representatives. Making things awkward for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is tasked with passing the bill, is the fact that some Republicans are balking because it will cut Medicaid over time, while others are refusing to support it because it doesn’t cut Medicaid enough. Ohio’s Rep. Jim Jordan and Kentucky’s Rep. Thomas Massie are among the latter, and their lack of buy-in could scuttle attempts to pass the legislation. But not all local representatives are against the legislation. Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents Cincinnati’s West Side, says he will support the bill, and Rep. Brad Wenstrup, who represents the city’s eastern suburbs, has made statements suggesting he will as well. The health care bill would boost tax cuts for wealthier Americans while limiting or eliminating coverage for as many as 24 million Americans, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. Some 700,000 Ohioans could lose their Medicaid coverage under the new bill, which rolls back an ACA expansion to that program.