FC Cincinnati, West End, city officials to meet Saturday to hammer out CBA; more news

A plan to provide $35 million in city infrastructure spending for FC Cincinnati's stadium hinges on council approving a CBA. Groups will meet tomorrow to try and draw one up.

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click to enlarge Cincinnati's West End - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati's West End

Hello all. Let’s get a quick news rundown in before I jet off to do the Ride for Reading today. What’s Ride for Reading, you ask? Click here and find out more about the rad annual event.

Representatives from the West End Community Council (WECC) and other groups will meet with FC Cincinnati and city elected officials tomorrow to try and hammer out a final community benefits agreement (CBA) around a soccer stadium in the West End. That agreement is needed if the city is to release $35 million for infrastructure around the prospective $200 million, privately-financed stadium. WECC President Jeff Blake signed an agreement with the team last month just before Cincinnati City Council voted to approve that infrastructure plan, but that CBA — which sets aside $100,000 a year for neighborhood groups, passes along a purchase option on land around the stadium for the creation of mixed-rate housing and creates a large board to oversee its implementation — didn’t have the backing of the full WECC general body and led to impeachment proceedings against Blake. The team says it needs a plan for a dedicated soccer stadium to secure an Major League Soccer expansion franchise. Deadlines for an announcement about FCC’s bid have come and gone, and it’s unclear when the decision will be made. Saturday’s CBA meeting comes as council is poised to consider a resolution accepting a CBA in committee Monday. That resolution was introduced by Mayor John Cranley, who says he would support council passing the CBA Blake signed last month or a new deal coming out of Saturday’s meeting.

• Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police's Dan Hils and Lt. Danita Pettis both received discipline from the Cincinnati Police Department over a row between the two last year, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. During a roll call meeting with other officers, Hils reportedly called Avondale “an urban ghetto” and made disparaging remarks about how he “kicked Pettis’ ass” when arresting her once 25 years prior. One officer also complained about other disparaging remarks made about Pettis, who outranks Hils. Pettis also received a reprimand, however, for her treatment of subordinates at another meeting the day prior about a response to a possible shots-fired call and for appearing on a radio program against the orders of her superiors. Four other officers also received reprimands for their role in the situation. Officer Thomas DeFranco and Sgt. Michelle Phillips were disciplined for recording meetings against department policy, Sgt. Jay Kemme was disciplined for forwarding some of those recordings to an outside investigator and Sgt. Dan O’Malley was reprimanded for not showing up to an internal investigation interview.

• Plans to redevelop a major historic building in Camp Washington are back to square one. You’ve probably seen the large, white Crosley Building, the former home of WLW and Crosley Radios back in the day, as you drive south on I-75. Indianapolis-based Core Redevelopment had planned on a $45 million project turning the building into 238 market-rate apartments, but the group is now putting the building up for sale, saying that while the market is still good for such development, changes to state tax credits and the timing of the project just won’t work for them now.

• As we wrote about Wednesday, Cincinnati City Council passed a ban on bump stocks, or accessories to semi-automatic rifles that allow them to fire like machine guns. Council passed the ban, introduced by P.G. Sittenfeld, 7-2, with council members Amy Murray and Jeff Pastor voting against. Pastor said he feared that the law, which may or may not go against a statewide ban on municipalities making their own gun restrictions, would result in costly lawsuits against the city. Both Ohioans for Concealed Carry and the Buckeye Firearm Association, two Second Amendment groups, say they will sue over the new law.

• Will the Hamilton County Commission raise sales taxes to plug a $28 million deficit next year? Commission members have set two meetings to hear from the public about that. Those meetings, June 4 and June 11, will take place at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Norwood at 6 p.m. The Hamilton County Administrator has recommended a .25 percent increase, though there are other options on the table. The commission can raise the tax rate without putting anything on the ballot. Currently, counting Ohio’s 5.75 percent sales tax, the county’s sales tax rate is 7 percent, but will drop .25 percent when the Union Terminal renovation sales tax expires in 2020. That’s below other urban counties in Ohio. Cuyahoga County’s rate is 8 percent and Franklin County’s is 7.5 percent.

• Ohio Auditor David Yost has released his audit of former online charter school ECOT, and, like past investigations by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), he’s found that the school deliberately inflated attendance numbers to game millions from Ohio taxpayers. Yost, however, is also pointing fingers at ODE, saying the department didn’t do enough to stop the fraudulent practices. That’s lead to criticism against Yost, who Democrats have blasted for not moving faster to investigate ECOT. The company donated heavily to Yost and other Republicans’ campaigns. ECOT folded earlier this year after the state demanded it pay back millions in taxpayer money for students who never or rarely used its services.

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