Boehner joins marijuana company board; more news

Former U.S. House Speaker and Indian Hill resident John Boehner announced yesterday that he's joined the board of New York-based Acreage Holdings, saying his views on marijuana use have "evolved"

click to enlarge Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is getting into the green for some green
Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is getting into the green for some green

Hello, all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news happening today.

Lots happened in the ongoing FC Cincinnati stadium drama yesterday. You can read the full story here, but let's give you some highlights.

Yesterday we got our first look at the details of the deal Cincinnati City Council will vote on next week that could bring FC Cincinnati’s potential soccer stadium to the West End. If passed, the deal would pull $8 million from a downtown and Over-the-Rhine TIF district, $7 million from the city’s sale of the Blue Ash airport, up to $1.5 million a year for 30 years from the city’s hotel tax proceeds and $2.5 million from the city’s capital fund. The money would go toward infrastructure around FCC’s proposed stadium on the current site of Cincinnati Public Schools’ Stargel Stadium. Among the necessary measures: moving various underground utilities and the construction of two parking garages.

• Another key piece of the stadium puzzle seemed to fall into place this week, with the Greater Cincinnati Redevelopment Authority indicating Tuesday that it would likely pass a measure to create an arrangement where it would own the soccer facility in the West End and lease it back to FCC. That would allow the team to avoid sales taxes on construction materials. It could also let the redevelopment authority help gather financing, according to a report in the Cincinnati Business Courier.

• Some folks are not happy about the prospect of a stadium in the West End. Roughly 80 rallied yesterday outside of Taft Information Technology High School near the proposed stadium site to air their displeasure with the deals between council, Cincinnati Public Schools and FCC. Among those speaking out were a number of West End residents, Cincinnati NAACP Vice President Joe Mallory and Councilman Wendell Young.

• Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune will undergo surgery Monday to amputate his left leg due to a malignant tumor. Portune, 59, expects to be in a Columbus hospital for three to five days after the surgery, but says that the Commission could hold votes offsite, causing minimal disruption to regular business. Portune says the cancer is limited to his lower leg, which has already been hobbled for years due to spinal tumors doctors discovered in 2003. The operation and use of a prosthetic leg may actually make him more mobile in the end, he says.

• So, now that Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has resigned after the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a probe into the Republican lawmaker, what’s next? That’s a really good question. Rosenberger’s resignation presents an unprecedented situation in the state house, one that lawmakers are still puzzling over. It’s unclear what the FBI’s probe into Rosenberger’s activities is focused on — many have suggested it has to do with the speaker’s cozy relationships with lobbyists in payday lending and other industries that could be subject to pending legislation in the state house. Rosenberger maintains he hasn’t done anything unethical. Some officials, like Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost, believe that business should continue as usual with Rosenberger out of the picture. But others say the entire state legislature needs to wait a beat, take a breath, and figure out just what is going on in Columbus. In the meantime, Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring is filling the role until Rosenberger’s resignation officially goes into effect May 1.

• Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has an… interesting… new job. Despite past stances against marijuana legalization, he has just joined the board of a New York cannabis company. He’s joining fellow Republican Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts, as a board member of Acreage Holdings. He’s also now magically in support of legalizing weed, of course.

"I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities," Boehner said in a tweet yesterday.

While some marijuana legalization advocates are celebrating Boehner’s change of heart, others are rolling the fact that a wealthy, connected former politician is jumping into the industry while thousands of Americans, many of them minorities, are in jail for marijuana-related offenses.