Morning News: City officials to discuss violence prevention; library director got big raise; Franklin removes monument to Confederate general

The City of Franklin removed a plaque dedicated to Confederate general Robert E. Lee last night. Initially, Franklin Township officials said the plaque wouldn’t be removed, but city officials discovered it was on land the city annexed in the 1990s.

Goodbye, Bob
Goodbye, Bob

Hey Cincinnati. Let’s hit some quick news points this morning, shall we?

This spring, Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Director Kim Fender said that state budget cuts presented “a financial tipping point” for the institution, that the library had already cut hours and reworked spending as much as possible due to past cuts and that the Library may need to ask taxpayers for more money. But around the time she made those comments, Fender was also getting a $30,000-a-year raise from the Library’s Board of Directors. That Board is also tangled up in a controversial dispute over whether to sell the north building of its flagship downtown location to raise money, which has raised the ire of some community activists. The Board cites the library’s five-star rating from influential Library Journal and other awards, as well as the fact that the library system is the busiest in the state. Fender is the third-highest-paid library director in Ohio after her raise.

• Mayor John Cranley, Cincinnati Police officials and anti-violence advocates will hold a news conference in Westwood at 2:30 pm this afternoon to discuss ongoing efforts to reduce the number of shootings in the city, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. Cranley will also announce he’s joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group made up of mayors past and present from both parties who are advocating for reforms to gun laws.

• President Donald Trump has said that transgender individuals aren’t welcome in the U.S. military, but the Cincinnati Police Department says they’re eagerly awaiting applications from transgender recruits. Local trans activists have decried Trump’s ban, and some say that having trans individuals serve on CPD increases acceptance and visibility in the community. CPD says it doesn’t keep data on trans employees, but acknowledges it has employed trans individuals in the past.

• If you drive and have to go to and from Kentucky for your commute, you’re about to get some relief. Lanes and exits around the Brent Spence Bridge that have been closed 24/7 for more than two months will finally open back up again Monday.  Some single lanes will remain closed during nighttime hours over the next few months, but expect traffic to be much more navigable finally. Much of the renovation work focused around repairing bridge joints and updating lighting on the bridge’s lower level.

• The New York Times came to Cincinnati again for its “36 Hours” series and found fun stuff to do downtown and in Over-the-Rhine. The author spent a lot of time at the 21c hotel downtown and also checking out the brewery scene in OTR. You can read the full rundown here and maybe get some ideas for the weekend.

• Last night officials with the City of Franklin removed a plaque dedicated to Confederate general Robert E. Lee. The move comes after nationwide controversy around monuments to the Confederacy, including the removal of a monument in Charlottesville, Va. that led to a massive protest and violence from white supremacists. Initially, Franklin Township officials said the plaque wouldn’t be removed, but city officials subsequently discovered it was on land the city annexed in the 1990s. They’re returning it to the township, which has not announced its plans for the rock bearing the plaque. So, where did the odd monument come from? CityBeat’s Steve Rosen tracked down its strange history a couple years back.

• Facebook will build a $750 million data center in Ohio, company officials revealed earlier this week. That facility will employ 100 people when it opens in New Albany, near Columbus, in 2019 and will be powered entirely by renewable energy, company officials say. Facebook already has similar data centers in North Carolina, Oregon and Iowa, but must build more to accommodate the 2 billion people who use the service globally. The state gave Facebook roughly $37 million in tax incentives to lure the project here.

• Finally, Republican elected officials are getting around to responding to comments by President Donald Trump about an act of domestic terrorism in Charlottesville. An Ohio man attending a white supremacist rally there ran his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and wounding 19. Trump at first blamed violence on “many sides” of the rally, though law enforcement officials have confirmed most of the violence came from members of racist organizations gathered there. Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected Trump’s statements equating neo-Nazis and white supremacists with anti-racist protesters, while other elected officials like U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot also criticized Trump’s remarks in more roundabout ways.

“There is no moral equivalency to Nazi sympathizers,” Kasich said via Twitter Tuesday evening. “There can be no room in America — or the Republican Party — for racism, anti-Semitism, hate or white nationalism. Period.”

Kasich has been a consistent critic of Trump since he lost the GOP presidential primary last year. Some speculate Kasich’s continued full-throated opposition to Trump’s agenda may play into an attempt to challenge Trump again in a GOP primary in 2020.

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