Morning News: Life without parole for killer once offered plea bargain; debate over GOP tax reform gets heated

Earl Jones, who shot unarmed Kevin Neri after sending him a series of racially charged texts, was yesterday sentenced to life in prison without parole. He turned down a plea deal from prosecutors earlier this year for a significantly shorter sentence.

click to enlarge The family of Kevin Neri stands outside the Hamilton County Courthouse to protest a plea deal prosecutors offered his shooter, Earl Jones. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
The family of Kevin Neri stands outside the Hamilton County Courthouse to protest a plea deal prosecutors offered his shooter, Earl Jones.

Good morning all. Here’s a quick news rundown for you today.

The battle over FC Cincinnati’s proposed stadium in Oakley is heating up. As the team prepares for a Dec. 14 deadline to apply for a franchise with Major League Soccer, Mayor John Cranley is set today to outline how the city could help provide infrastructure for the $200 million facility the team says it needs to win the bid. Hamilton County Commissioners have made their offer — a $15 million parking garage in lieu of the $75 million in infrastructure help FCC has asked for. With the feasibility of a stadium here up in the air, the team says it’s again looking toward a riverfront site in Newport. More here.

• A Hamilton County judge has sentenced Earl Jones to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of the unarmed Kevin Neri. Jones turned down a plea deal from Hamilton County Prosecutors, first reported by CityBeat earlier this year. That deal would have netted Jones a much lighter sentence in the killing, which was preceded by racially charged text messages from Jones, who is white, to Neri, who was multi-racial. Neri was dating Jones’ ex-girlfriend when Jones came to her house and shot Neri three times moments after arriving. A jury found Jones guilty of murder last month.

• Hey, sometimes, news is positive. A Metro bus driver is getting accolades for helping a lost child in the middle of his route. Orlando King saw a small child on Queen City Avenue two weeks ago while driving a bus and pulled over to talk to the young girl. After noticing she wasn’t wearing a coat and attempting to help her find her home, King called his supervisors and police to help her get to safety. The act was captured on video and has won the driver recognition from Metro and the city.

  It’s not just your imagination. Over-the-Rhine has gotten a lot busier. Since the beginning of this year, the neighborhood has added almost 40 new businesses, including eateries, shops and other enterprises, the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. That’s great. Now if there was a just a place I could do my laundry there.

• In the 1940s, Robert Ingguls was forced to attend elementary at the segregated Southgate Street School in Newport. Today, he’s helping preserve the building and Northern Kentucky history, as this story relates. The school was the only one available to black students in Campbell County until federal orders to desegregate the nation’s public schools came down in 1954. Now it houses the Northern Kentucky History Museum. Newport Historic Preservation Officer Scott Clark, grad students at Northern Kentucky University and Ingguls have teamed up on the museum, including an exhibit about the realities of Kentucky’s “separate but equal” segregated schools.

• How heated is the debate over the GOP’s big $1.5 trillion tax overhaul getting? Check out this video of a tense back and forth between U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, and Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican. Brown is blasting Hatch for the Senate bill, which would kill the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and essentially gut the healthcare law. The Senate Finance Committee, which Hatch chairs, passed that bill last night. The bill would kill the individual mandate in order to save money so it can lower corporate tax rates to just 20 percent from 35 percent. Those tax cuts would be permanent, with no need for periodic renewal by Congress. Lower earners also get some more moderate tax breaks, but those would expire in just a few years. Brown and Hatch were arguing over an amendment to the bill that would tie the 20 percent corporate tax rate to wage growth. Without that, Brown says, the GOP tax reform effort is just a big tax cut for the nation’s wealthiest. Hatch was having none of it, banging a comically tiny gavel and getting very red in the face as he exclaimed that he came “from the poor people.” But some experts agree with Brown. The Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group, estimates that low- and moderate-income people would see their taxes go up over the next decade under the Republican plan, while high earners would pay less.

“I just think it would be nice tonight before we go home to acknowledge that this tax cut isn’t for the middle class, it’s for the rich,” Brown said in the committee. “And that whole thing about higher wages, well, it’s a good selling point, but we know companies don’t just give away higher wages. Corporations are sitting on a lot of money now, a lot of profits now.”

The bill now goes for consideration by the whole Senate, where it faces uncertain prospects. House Republicans are considering a similar bill, although theirs doesn't eliminate the ACA's individual mandate.


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