Good morning all. Here’s some news today.
It looks like first and second-round NCAA basketball tournament games will go down in Cincinnati in March, 2022. But there’s a $200 million “if” attached to the prospect. The city’s successful bid for the six games on March 17 and 19 is dependent on the successful completion of planned renovations to US Bank Arena, where the games are to be held. Arena operator and majority owner Nederlander Entertainment hasn’t yet locked down financing for the arena’s makeover, but says it’s working with the city and the county to try and find funding sources for the project. The arena’s unupdated condition was cited as among the reasons Cincinnati missed out on the 2016 Republican National Convention. The arena last hosted NCAA basketball tournament games in 1992.
• Someone needs to talk to the streetcar about its beer problem. Or maybe someone needs to talk to beer about its streetcar problem. What I’m trying to say is that the streetcar has been experiencing lags in run times, and cars stopping or parking on the streetcar tracks outside popular Rhinegeist brewery at 1900 Elm St. are one of the big reasons for that. That spot has had more problems with cars parking on the tracks than any other location on the streetcar’s route — though other locations are also causing headaches. Cars stopped on the tracks outside the brewery caught up the streetcar more than 135 times as of February, parking officials say. Officials with the city and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority have blamed lagging pickup times caused by traffic snags — including cars stopped on the tracks — for sagging ridership numbers. SORTA’s contract with streetcar operator Transdev stipulates cars are supposed to reach stations every 15 minutes, but that isn’t happening. Cincinnati City Councilmembers have mulled raising fines associated with parking on the tracks from $50 to $100 or higher.
• Two Cincinnati-based law firms are part of a larger lawsuit against Chiquita Brands International, the fruit corporation once headquartered in Cincinnati, over charges it funded armed groups that committed mass murder, torture and kidnapping in Columbia two decades ago. Chiquita had large plantations in the country at the time, and the lawsuit involving thousands of plaintiffs and including former company executives as defendants alleges that the company helped arm the groups for security purposes.
• We've been telling you about the Fairfield mother of four arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents earlier this month. Today, Maribel Trujillo was deported, federal officials say. Trujillo had been in the United States since 2002 and wasn't a suspect in any crimes. She had been issued a valid work visa to stay in the United States until July prior to the election of President Donald Trump. But after directives from the Trump administration ordered a clampdown on undocumented immigrants, Trujillo was detained by ICE. She was flown from a detention center in Louisiana back to Mexico today.
• State Rep. Candice Keller, a Republican from Middletown, recently spoke on the radio show of a white supremacist. In February, Keller appeared on the Sonny Thomas Show to talk up her bill that would hold elected officials who promote sanctuary city status responsible for crimes committed by undocumented people. The bill would also seek to force local police departments to help carry out federal immigration law. Thomas, who founded the Springboro Tea Party, has quoted the motto of white supremacist leader David Lane on Twitter as well as tweeting phrases about preserving the white race and other racially-charged invective. His website includes phrases like “ ‘Diversity’ is a code word for white genocide.” Keller says she was unaware of his views when she appeared on his show and would not have done so if she had known about Thomas’ racial politics. Thomas does not describe himself as a white supremacist, saying only that he loves his “own people and culture.” While on the show, Keller shared false information about undocumented people, including a fake statistic that 13 people a day are killed by undocumented drunk drivers. That claim, first made in 2006, has been debunked. Keller has also drawn controversy over a recent post she made equating Planned Parenthood with Nazis. “One day we will look back at this,” says the Facebook meme, which features an arrow pointing to the Planned Parenthood logo, “the same way we look back at this” next to an arrow pointing to a swastika. That post has since been removed.
• Wow. Folks out in the land of my birth sure know how to pick ‘em. Here’s more out of Butler County, where State Rep. Wes Rutherford of Hamilton won’t face a felony charge that would have booted him out of the State House under state law. Rutherford, you may remember, was found passed out in his McNuggets* in a McDonald’s drive thru March 12 with a loaded gun in his car. After administering a sobriety test, which Rutherford failed, police cited him for drunk driving and a felony weapons charge. But a grand jury declined to pursue the latter, citing a lack of evidence somehow, and now Rutherford can keep his $60,000 a year job as state rep. At least until voters get another crack at him, or until Butler County GOP Chairman Todd Hall convinces him to resign.
*This detail about the McNuggets is pure speculation, but what else do you get during a 3:30 a.m. McDonald’s run?