Morning News: Streetcar closure limited to downtown; Sen. Brown unveils push for minimum wage boost; state records: Pence used private email for public business

Our vice president not only uses an AOL email account; he also used it to discuss terrorist attacks and other security issues while he was Indiana governor, state records show.

click to enlarge Vice President Mike Pence - WIKIPEDIA
Vice President Mike Pence

Happy Friday, Cincy. Are you checking out Bockfest tonight? You’ll probably see me around. But before the bockwurst and delicious beer, we’ve got some news business to get to.

A temporary closure of Cincinnati’s streetcar will be limited to the downtown portion of its loop, leaving the Over-the-Rhine section open. Two five-foot concrete slabs on Walnut Street have developed serious cracks and need repairs, which will take several days. There are no immediate safety dangers posed by the cracks, city officials say, but repairs should be made now because spring’s moderate temperatures are ideal for re-pouring the concrete. The city will probably opt to have crews work on the slabs 24 hours a day for four days or so. The lanes with the streetcar tracks around the repairs will be closed to traffic during that time. 

• Some folks are a little touchy about free speech. A sign protesting President Donald Trump placed on public property in Hyde Park has been removed multiple times, even though the sign has a permit from the city and is there legally. Cincinnati attorney Rick Ganulin placed the sign, which says simply “We Resist,” in Hyde Park Square. Hours later, the sign had been removed. Ganulin and his neighbors replaced the sign, only to have it removed again and tossed into nearby bushes. Now, the sign’s gone missing entirely. Ganulin has reported the sign stolen.

• Vice President Mike Pence yesterday visited Greater Cincinnati, where he met with a local business owner and pledged to end the “nightmare” of the Affordable Care Act. At Frame USA in Springdale, Pence promised President Donald Trump would work with Congress to repeal and replace the ACA with something better — though plans have yet to fully materialize for that replacement. Approximately 700,000 Ohioans gained insurance through the Medicaid expansion portion of the ACA, and large protests have roiled town halls and constituent meetings held by Republican members of Congress in their districts following moves to dismantle the ACA. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price accompanied Pence on the visit. Frame USA CEO Dan Regenold has been a staunch Trump booster.

• Miami University in Oxford, Ohio will undergo an independent climate assessment and survey around transparency and equal access, President Greg Crawford has announced. According to Crawford’s office, that’s been a plan since he started his tenure at the school. But it also comes after major controversies over student drinking, including the recent alcohol poisoning death of a freshman. It also comes as Miami gets federal scrutiny for the way it handles sexual assault reports. Crawford did not mention either of those in a letter to the university community published late last week, but the missive does call the survey “vital” in order to “create an environment characterized by transparency, fairness and equal access for all students, staff and faculty.” The school has hired Rankin & Associates Consulting to complete the assessment.

• U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, is set today to unveil a push for a $15 minimum wage, laws supporting organized labor and other liberal policies during a speech at the Ohio State University. Brown has always been a relatively progressive force in the Senate, but the emphasis on those left-leaning policies comes as Democrats in Ohio and across the country feel the deep sting of losing working-class white votes to President Trump in the 2016 election. Brown's policy proposals are part of a bid by Democrats to win back some of those voters.

• Let’s go back to Pence for a minute. There’s a big story making the rounds today about the former Indiana governor’s use of a private e-mail account for public business while he held the Hoosier State’s top elected job. Sometimes, Pence used that e-mail account to discuss secret information and matters relating to security issues and terrorist attacks. Oops. What’s more, Pence was hacked while using that America Online e-mail address, and a scammer sent e-mails to all of his contacts claiming that Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and needed money. Double oops. Indiana officials released the e-mails after a public records request from the IndyStar. Some of those e-mails were not released, however, because state officials said they were too sensitive to be made public. The revelation comes after Pence and the Trump campaign made a major issue of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server when she was U.S. Secretary of State. Pence critics say his use of a private e-mail account was reckless and makes him a hypocrite. Pence’s spokesperson pushed back on that, however, saying there’s a difference between using a major e-mail provider to send messages about state business and using a private server to correspond about issues of national security. Perhaps under-covered in this whole mess: yes, our vice president uses AOL.

Alright, I'm out. See you at Bockfest. Give me a shout on Twitter with beer suggestions and a good place to get a pretzel.