Morning News: Prominent faith leader thrown in jail over code issues; streetcar ridership up in April; Liberty and Elm opponents propose agreement as Council vote nears

Rev. Peterson Mingo was arrested briefly yesterday after an ongoing issue with city code compliance involving a property he owns in Evanston.

Good morning all. Lots of stuff has happened in the past 24 hours. Let’s get to it.

A well-known neighborhood activist and faith leader, Rev. Peterson Mingo, was arrested briefly yesterday after an ongoing issue with city code compliance involving a retaining wall at a property he owns in Evanston. Mingo was arrested following an appearance in the city’s municipal housing court. He was released soon afterward, but still faces an uncertain legal situation. He says he doesn’t have the money to fix his property until this summer. He’s been wrangling with the city over the wall since 2014, and spoke about his struggles with the city’s code compliance system at a community meeting in Mount Auburn CityBeat attended in February related to code compliance in that neighborhood. Mingo works with the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission. City officials, including Mayor John Cranley and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, jumped to Mingo’s defense. Cranley helped secure Mingo’s release from the Hamilton County Justice Center.

The actions today concerning Pastor Mingo are outrageous and unnecessary. We raised this issue months ago and were assured by the city administration that this would not happen,” Simpson said in a statement last night. “The possibility that anyone could be arrested for failure to make a home repair is preposterous. That this has and could happen to any homeowner is a failure of this administration that needs to be corrected immediately.”

The Cincinnati NAACP has also backed Mingo.

"Pastor Mingo was summarily thrown into jail by Judge Bernie Bouchard for a property code violation," the civil rights group said in a Facebook post last night. "The policy he was charged under needs to be overhauled. It is currently a solution looking for a problem. We will strongly advocate for a process that avoids having home owners go through a criminal process when it pertains to property maintenance issues. Due to these tough economic times, making costly repairs can create extreme hardships for many. Pastor Mingo works extremely hard serving the public, he deserved more deference than he received."

Ridership numbers for the streetcar were up in April, according to data discussed yesterday at Cincinnati City Council’s Major Transportation and Regional Cooperation Committee. Almost 50,000 people boarded the streetcar last month — a big jump over the approximately 35,000 who rode in March and the 37,000 who rode in February. The streetcar is still behind on ridership projections so far for the year — about 437,000 have ridden since Jan. 1, short of the nearly 580,000 who were expected to. But revenue is holding steady — since Jan. 1, the streetcar has raked in $2,479,000, which is about $36,000 ahead of what was budgeted. The transit system’s expenses are also about $67,000 under budget.

What’s next for the Clifton Cultural Arts Center as it faces eviction from its current location? The answer is… no one is sure just yet. Cincinnati Public Schools is taking the building back after leasing it to the CCAC in 2009. Since that time, the arts center has made more than $2 million in upgrades to the building, which CPS will reimburse. The CCAC is looking for another, similarly sized building in Clifton, and, if it isn’t successful, says it will expand its search to other uptown neighborhoods like Avondale, Mount Auburn and CUF. The Clifton School building the CCAC will occupy until August, 2018 is about 25,000 square feet. CPS purchased a nearby house for $700,000 and offered to lease it to the CCAC, but it is much smaller than the art center’s current building.

• Representatives of the Over-the-Rhine Community Council, Over-the-Rhine Foundation and other groups opposing the proposed development at Liberty and Elm streets in Over-the-Rhine have proposed a community benefits agreement with developer Source 3, according to an email statement from those groups. That agreement asks for nine units of affordable housing if the developer receives public money or five if it does not, adjustment of the building's height to 68 feet at the corner of Liberty and Elm and between 55 and 65 feet elsewhere, notification a month before retail tenants are selected and other stipulations. Council is set to vote on the sale of two alleys needed for the project and two LEED tax abatements for the development today.

Following questions about discipline practices for deputies serving at the Hamilton County Justice Center, one inmate has filed a federal lawsuit alleging officers used excessive force against him. According to that suit, corrections officer Jason Mize threw 61-year-old Mark Myers “headfirst into a cinderblock wall,” leaving a gash on Myers’ head and breaking his hip. He later required surgery for that injury. Mize had been disciplined three times in the past for using excessive force but was still serving as a corrections officer. He resigned after the incident with Myers. At the time, Myers was at the jail due to a theft charge involving $120 in electrical equipment. He was later acquitted on those charges.

Speaking of discipline issues with the Hamilton County Sheriffs Department: an investigation by WCPO reveals that since 2013, six deputies with Sheriff Jim Neil’s office have been charged with OVIs, but none have been fired following the incidents. Only two were even suspended after being caught driving drunk.

A new poll suggests that 36 percent of people living in Northern Kentucky have a family member or friend struggling with heroin addiction, the highest proportion of any region in the state. Norwood-based Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky conducted the poll via phone between September and October last year, asking 1,580 Kentucky residents about opiate addiction. Statewide, nearly three in 10 Kentucky residents know someone with a prescription pill problem, and two in 10 know someone addicted to heroin.

Finally, the big national shocker: President Donald Trump yesterday fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, citing questions about Comey’s ability to lead the bureau. Comey famously announced that then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s email usage was under renewed investigation by the FBI weeks before the November 2016 election. Comey then revealed that no new incriminating information had been gleaned about Clinton and that she was no longer under investigation just days before voters went to the polls. Many, including Clinton herself, have blamed Comey’s statements for costing Clinton the election.

Comey also made misleading statements about those emails to Congress last week — statements the FBI had to correct later. Congressional Democrats — and some Republicans — decried Comey’s firing, questioning the timing of his dismissal. Comey was leading the probe into the Trump campaign’s entanglements with Russia. CNN reported yesterday that grand jury subpoenas had been issued in that investigation. Comey reportedly learned about his firing by hearing it on cable news while giving a speech to fellow FBI agents. He initially thought it was a prank. Ouch.

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