Controversy continues after Sinclair Broadcasting editorial; Pureval reports big campaign haul; more news

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval's congressional campaign challenging U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot has raised $660,000 since launching in January

click to enlarge Aftab Pureval - Hailey Bollinger
Hailey Bollinger
Aftab Pureval

Good morning, all. Let’s get straight to the news today.

A long-running dispute between the Cincinnati Park Board and the city over Park Board spending from a private foundation seems to have come to a conclusion. After a state audit dinged the board for its contracting practices on Smale Riverfront Park, and after a heated back and forth with Mayor John Cranley and city administration about how the board spends money from private donors, the city will have more oversight on spending by the board. A majority of the Park Board yesterday agreed to submit all parks contracts to Cincinnati’s finance director. That’s a big change from past practice, when the Park Board had more or less complete autonomy from the city when it came to spending money donated to it by private donors. The city won’t have control over the Park Foundation bank accounts, supporters of the agreement say, and the finance director’s oversight is merely to make sure the board is following the law. But opponents — including some donors, dissenting board members Bob Anning and Susan Castellini and former Board chair Dianne Rosenberg — say the new move erodes the Park Board’s independence from the city. The rule change comes after a bitter battle over Cranley’s appointment of board member Jim Goetz to replace Rosenberg. Cranley said Rosenberg’s term was meant to be partial and had expired late last year. Rosenberg, pointing to city documents showing she was serving a full term, disputed that. An independent court review eventually found in favor of Cranley.

• Everyone is weighing in on Sinclair Broadcasting’s recent move forcing anchors at its 193 stations to read a statement from company owners decrying “fake news” and biased reporting after Deadspin did a mashup of many of those anchors reading the exact same words. The statements bear an eerie resemblance to talking points President Donald Trump has used to bash media that has reported on him in less than flattering ways. Sinclair’s primary owners have supported staunchly conservative causes and candidates over the years, and the company’s chairman, David Smith, has lit into what he perceives as “liberal bias” in print media. (He’s said in recent interviews that all print media is “meaningless dribble.”) Locally, Channel 12 is Sinclair owned and ran the statement from company owners. That caused Democrat Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld to slam the company, calling it “creepy, cultish and way too propagandistic for my tastes.” He’s promised to boycott Channel 12. Meanwhile, entertainment icon Nick Clooney, who was once an anchor for Channel 12 before they were Sinclair-owned, said he would have quit if asked to read an editorial on the air. Sinclair says they were just touting responsible journalism with their editorial and warning the public about the dangers of fake news, including things like the so-called Pizzagate conspiracy theory, which claimed to link high-level Democrats to a fictitious child trafficking ring.

• A local charter school sponsored by Cincinnati Public Schools will close in June because the Ohio Department of Education has ruled that the district is not allowed to sponsor charters. Carpe Diem had a five-year contract with CPS starting in 2013. When that contract is up, its 200 students will move to a CPS high school or other option in the district. CPS says it is working with Carpe Diem to help its teachers and staff find new jobs as well. Generally, a charter school in this position wouldn’t necessarily have to close. It could continue on with another sponsoring organization. Lighthouse Community School, which was also sponsored by CPS, will carry on under a sponsorship arrangement with ODE’s Office of School Sponsorship.

• So, dude, how much do you know about blockchain? It’s the coding logic that runs Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but the verification technology, which generates and adds to unique lines of code to verify transactions, also has a number of other uses. A local capital investment company called Queen City Angels hopes to make Cincinnati a hub for the emerging technology, and is backing two startups using blockchain in creative ways as its opening bid toward that end. One, C-Prop, uses blockchain to record property purchase documentation. The other, 10xts, tracks trading of alternative assets. You can find out more about what that means in this Business Courier story.

• Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and congressional candidate Aftab Pureval has reported a big fundraising haul in his campaign to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot. Pureval has raised $660,000 for his campaign since he jumped into the race in January. Pureval will need the money — Chabot’s 1st Congressional District incorporates some parts of Cincinnati’s West Side, but, thanks to redistricting, also includes deep-red Warren County. Pureval, a Democrat, will face a steep challenge unseating Republican Chabot in those areas. It’s unclear yet how much Chabot has raised, but we’ll keep you updated.

• Will Anderson High School finally ditch its retrograde mascot name — "Redskins" — which some consider a racial slur for Native Americans? It's unclear at this point. A committee of the district's school board yesterday met to discuss the subject after other teams — including the Cleveland Indians — have ditched their racist mascots. The board committee bravely decided it would not make a decision on the subject.

""You know what? Both sides are right," committee chair Jim Frooman said of the debate, which has pitted those who say the mascot is racist against others who see it as part of the school's tradition and pride. The committee meets again in two weeks.

• Covington Independent School District will be closed again today in connection with protests over cuts to teacher pensions passed by the Kentucky state legislature. Yesterday, teachers from across the state called off sick and gathered at the state capitol building in Frankfort to protest those cuts. Those protestors included teachers from a number of Northern Kentucky school districts. Educators and their advocates are also worried about Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s potential veto on a legislative spending bill that would restore funding for schools across the state. Bevin issued a statement expressing opposition to the compromise spending measure agreed upon by state legislators. If the spending provision has enough support, however, legislators could override that veto.

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