Afternoon News: Go vote early; new partnership looks to extend home ownership in Price Hill; Matt Borges, Trump whisperer

Are you headed out to cast a ballot? You should be. You can vote today through Oct. 21 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and many other times after that leading up to the Nov. 8 election.

Hello all. Here’s a quick afternoon news update.

Today is the first day of early voting in Ohio. Are you headed out to cast a ballot? You should be. You can vote today through Oct. 21 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, and many other times after that leading up to the Nov. 8 election. Check out the Ohio Secretary of State’s website for more information about voting locations and other details.

• Hamilton County Clerk of Courts candidate Aftab Pureval is slamming incumbent Clerk Tracy Winkler over emails she sent encouraging employees in her office to campaign for her. Those emails also involve the Clerk's HR officer and strongly encourage staff in Winkler's office to participate in campaign activities. Pureval says that amounts to pushing employees to engage in political activity with implied threats about job security. Pureval is challenging Winkler for the Clerk spot. Check out CityBeat's story here.

• You should cruise on over to our news feature this week to find out more about the Community Learning Center Institute’s new partnership with Habitat for Humanity at Lower Price Hill’s Oyler School. The neighborhood is a tight-knit enclave that has struggled economically for decades. CLCI has established a number of partnerships providing all sorts of community services from the school, and a 2012 renovation made big changes at Oyler. Now CLCI is looking to extend its impact outside the bounds of the school walls by working with Habitat to rehab seven single-family homes for neighborhood residents.

• Cincinnati City Council will consider a motion asking that the city’s transportation department give streetcars and buses zooming around downtown and Over-the-Rhine priority at stoplights. Council’s transportation committee voted through a motion that directs the city to set traffic light timing in such a way that it favors vehicles traveling at the speeds streetcars and buses travel. The measure is just a suggestion, and the transportation department will have the final say on light timing. It will probably begin re-timing lights to make streetcar travel faster early next year, after a $300,000 traffic study it commissioned is completed.

• Is a major chain of Ohio charter schools, including one in Bond Hill, tied to the recent coup attempt in Turkey? That’s what a new report by Amsterdam and Partners, which was hired by the government of Turkey to investigate Fethullah Gullen, a Turkish exile living in Pennsylvania. Gullen is accused of organizing the coup attempt, and the law firm was tapped to investigate him and the large network of businesses he runs. Amsterdam says that network includes 17 charter schools in Ohio, including Cincinnati’s Horizon Science Academy, run by Chicago’s Concept Schools. Concept says they’re not connected to Gullen, but Amsterdam’s report says they’re part of a “closed loop” system in which Gullen schools get money from states and use it to pay inflated rent for Gullen-owned properties, effectively bilking taxpayers. Concept says that’s false, and that the allegations are being fed by charter school opponents in Ohio. The state’s charter schools have faced a number of investigations over lax regulations and state standards, which are lower than those imposed on public schools.

• You probably saw that Cincinnati Enquirer story about Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges we linked to earlier this week, which painted the state’s top Republican as a reluctant voter torn about whether to cast a ballot for his party’s nominee, Donald Trump. Well, there’s another side to Borges, as this story details. Turns out, Borges is closer to Trump than you’d be led to believe from the Enquirer piece, and is actually a close confidant of The Donald on all matters Ohio. Trump’s in trouble here, a more-or-less must-win state for Republicans. Recent polls show Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton up by as much as 14 points. Borges was on the phone with Trump about his Ohio strategy as recently as this morning, reports, and has become something of an “Trump whisperer” for the divisive candidate.

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