Good morning, all. Here’s a quick news rundown in case you missed anything from yesterday’s hectic news day.
The prospect of a potential FC Cincinnati soccer stadium in the West End may be dead. The Cincinnati Board of Education yesterday told FC Cincinnati to pay its fair share of taxes if it wanted to build a stadium on CPS land in the neighborhood. In a letter released yesterday afternoon, the Board pointed out that FCC’s final offer — $750,000 a year to the district for 10 years, plus a draft of promised community benefits — was less than the $2 million a year the district would receive from a standard, tax-abated commercial project. The Board also laid into FCC for setting a 5 p.m. deadline yesterday for a decision. That wouldn’t have been enough time for the Board to call a public vote on the proposal. In their response letter, the BOE said it would be open to further formal offers if given the time to discuss them in public. FCC, however, said last night it is likely moving on to consider Oakley and Newport as potential locations ahead of its stated March 31 deadline.
• Just prior to those dramatic developments in the stadium saga, another big production took the stage at City Hall. As we’ve reported, Mayor John Cranley has asked City Manager Harry Black to resign, and Black has refused. That leaves Cincinnati City Council to make the final decision — and so far, they’re not budging. In a news conference after yesterday’s council meeting, Cranley promised to compile a report detailing city employee complaints against Black and wants those employees to testify before city council.
The mayor says that the city manager has a history of “abusive” and “retaliatory” behavior and wants him out for the good of the city. Black’s supporters, who piled into council yesterday to speak on his behalf, say he’s being ousted because he supported Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac in ousting Assistant Chief Dave Bailey last week. Here’s our story on that controversy, which involves a gender discrimination lawsuit, a leaked overtime audit that seems to show improprieties in overtime pay at some police districts and more. You can read our story here on the bizarre scene at City Hall yesterday and the theatrics after it.
• Speaking of the controversy over Bailey’s ouster, the city yesterday released two memos dated March 5 and March 8 from Chief Isaac to Black detailing issues with the assistant chief. Both memos asking Black to take action on Bailey’s behavior and performance are the same, but one asks the city manager outright to fire the assistant chief. According to Isaac, Bailey worked to “create a chaotic atmosphere inside the department. His efforts have been to establish pathways to evade or conceal matters that require my attention or decision making.”
According to Isaac, Bailey was going over the chief’s head to communicate with federal law enforcement partners and open up internal investigations. He also ignored problems with the city’s 911 call center that were his job to solve, Isaac claims, and allegedly worked to undermine the city’s Collaborative Agreement. That last allegation comes after a recent report by independent experts the city tapped to review the state of Cincinnati’s historic 2002 police reforms claims that CPD has all but walked away from them. Interestingly, Isaac’s initial memo to Black came the same day CPD District 5 commander Sgt. Bridget Bardua filed her gender discrimination complaint against Bailey and other high-ranking CPD officers.
• More Cincinnati Police news, though this next item is a bit less cloak-and-dagger. CPD is considering expanding its ShotSpotter technology to more neighborhoods. The devices detect the sound of gunshots and report them automatically to police. They were placed in locations around Avondale last August. Since that time, shootings have dropped in the neighborhood, something officers say is linked to the technology. Now, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman wants to put ShotSpotter in other areas, including possibly Over-the-Rhine and parts of the West End. That’ll be up to analysts with CPD, however.
• Federal District Court Judge Timothy Black yesterday temporarily blocked an Ohio law preventing abortion when the fetus has bee diagnosed with Down Syndrome. That law, passed by Ohio’s conservative state legislature and signed by Gov. John Kasich in December last year, was set to go into effect March 23. Those found guilty under the ban would face a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison.
The law drew a lawsuit from a Cleveland abortion provider. Black’s decision means the state won’t be able to implement that law until that lawsuit is settled. The judge noted a similar Indiana law was recently found unconstitutional in his 22 page opinion.
“Federal law is crystal clear,” he wrote. “A state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability… Ohio’s new law wrongfully does just that: it violates the right to privacy of every woman in Ohio and is unconstitutional on its face.”
Anti-abortion groups have pledged to enlist pro-life Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in court battles over Black’s decision.