Good morning all. Did you enjoy the amazing weather yesterday? I hope we all soaked it up, because just as the river is starting to go down after its biggest flood in 20 years, it’s supposed to rain… again… today. The river is at 56 feet now, down from its crest of over 60 feet. Despite the precipitation, it’s expected to be below flood stage by Saturday. Anyway, here’s some non weather-related news.
This University of Cincinnati will settle a lawsuit brought by a professor who was paid thousands of dollars less a year than her male colleagues. This month, Geography professor Colleen McTague won a $200,000 settlement from the university. In her lawsuit filed after she retired, McTague says that male colleagues — including one with identical credentials to hers — were making tens of thousands of dollars more than she was. She was rebuked multiple times by the department’s administration when she asked for her pay to be made equal. McTague’s case is extreme — at one point, a male colleague with an identical job description was making $125,000 in total compensation to her roughly $60,000 a year. But it’s illustrative of a larger dynamic at UC and many other universities. Women teaching at UC on average make $17,000 a year less than their male counterparts.
• The Cincinnati Public Schools Board and Cincinnati City Council met yesterday to discuss, among other issues, the potential West End land swap between CPS and soccer team FC Cincinnati. The takeaway from that meeting? All parties are holding their cards close and say they won’t be rushed into any decisions. CPS must give its approval for the land swap, which would demolish Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium and put a soccer stadium on the site. In return, FCC would build a new Stargel across Ezzard Charles Drive. The proposal has been controversial, with many in the West End speaking out against it — though some supporters in the neighborhood have also surfaced of late. Cincinnati City Council would likely also have to vote on elements of the deal, which would include infrastructure spending and, some have speculated, tax abatements. Neither CPS nor city council has scheduled any votes on the matter.
• Meanwhile, an announcement from Major League Soccer about whether FCC will get the franchise that would necessitate the stadium may still be a little ways off. The team likely won’t hear about its bid to join the league until after its new season kicks off March 3. But there are some signs Cincinnati’s club is the favorite: one league commissioner has commented that MLS has "made the most progress in Cincinnati." Hm.
• Previously in this news roundup, we’ve talked about the Hamilton County Jail’s overcrowding problem — the 800 person jail is currently well over capacity and getting fuller — and proposals to fix the situation. Those have included bail reform that could keep non-violent drug suspects out of the facility as they’re awaiting trial. Here’s another idea some, including the Hamilton County Heroin Task Force, are supporting: diverting those accused of nonviolent offenses with addiction problems and mental illness toward treatment instead of arrest.
“Drug and alcohol abuse and mental illness occupy most of the court cases in any given area,” Task Force Commander Tom Fallon tells WCPO. "I can remember (an example) that has happened hundreds of times in my career: Maybe it’s that guy with an open container. The underlying problem is he has a severe alcohol problem or mental illness. Citing him to court or arresting him is not doing any good.”
The county is currently exploring the option with help from a $100,000 grant from nonprofit Interact for Health.
• Colerain High School isn't putting up with protests from students. School officials have warned in a letter to parents that students who walk out of school protesting gun violence or other issues — an act that has swept high schools across the country in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla. — will be disciplined accordingly. Some parents have called that move harsh and short-sighted, though others say they agree with the stance.
• Can gun control legislation survive the deeply conservative Kentucky State House? Some Bluegrass State lawmakers hope so. Several Democrats in the state legislature have introduced the 19th bill this session to deal in some way with gun control, and it’s ambitious for the conservative state, though it focuses at least partly on mental health issues that some activists say aren’t the real problem. House Bill 502 would allow municipalities in the state to enact tighter gun control laws, expand background checks for those with mental illness who make threats of violence and require locked storage of weapons kept around children, among other measures. The bill comes after mass shootings at schools in Marshall County, Ky. and Parkland, Fla. In the latter, accused shooter Nikolas Cruz was able to legally obtain an AR-15 and kill 17 people with it despite having severe discipline problems and being known to law enforcement agencies for violent threats he’d made.