Morning News: Metro could cut routes; Cincy could get Trump Hotel; State Rep. Retherford in court

Metro could cut the 38X, 28, 50, 75X, 30X, 23X and 1 routes, which serve neighborhoods like Westwood, North Fairmount, Camp Washington, Corryville, Mount Auburn, Winton Place, Columbia Tusculum, East End and others, as well as outlying suburbs.

click to enlarge Morning News: Metro could cut routes; Cincy could get Trump Hotel; State Rep. Retherford in court
Nick Swartsell

Good morning all. Here’s some news today.

Some Metro routes could get the axe if the city doesn’t tap into reserve funds to close a coming budget gap for the bus service. Yesterday, we mentioned that the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority is asking the city to tap into some transit reserve funds to close a $3 million gap looming in SORTA’s Metro bus budget next year. If that gap isn’t closed, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Metro has proposed cutting the 38X, 28, 50, 75X, 30X, 23X and 1 routes, which serve neighborhoods like Westwood, North Fairmount, Camp Washington, Corryville, Mount Auburn, Winton Place, Columbia Tusculum, East End and others, as well as outlying suburbs like Forest Park, Springdale and Anderson Township. Those routes account for more than 390,000 rides a year. Cutting them would save Metro $2.9 million.

• As Metro wrestles with its budget woes, some of its bus stops are getting scrutiny. Specifically, this non-Metro-constructed bus shanty on Riverside Drive, which appears to be a MacGyvered concrete bench and wood lean-to-esque structure. Pretty impressive for a DIY job. After someone posted a photo of the shelter on Facebook, the Enquirer picked it up as a news story. Metro pledged to take it down over safety concerns. SORTA Board member Maurice Brown called the shelter “an embarrassment.” But the lingering question is whether a more legitimate bus stop shelter will go up in its place. The city has been removing bus benches that aren’t up to standard lately to the consternation of some bus riders.

• Cincinnati city officials yesterday took a step toward making sure affordable high-speed broadband internet access is available across the city, bridging socioeconomic divides. At a news conference yesterday, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, City Manager Harry Black and other officials launched calls for statements of qualifications from private companies so the city can begin contracting efforts to create the necessary infrastructure for low-cost broadband access. Sittenfeld says the effort will start with densely populated parts of the Queen City and branch out. In certain areas, that wi-fi access could be free, similar to a recent program that gave free wi-fi to Lower Price Hill. Cincinnati would join other so-called “smart cities” like Louisville and Columbus looking to use technology to benefit citizens and create more equity.

• A volunteer for Councilwoman Yvette Simpson’s mayoral campaign removed a Friday social media post in which she called Mayor John Cranley a “stale pale male” yesterday. The post promoting Simpson’s campaign by Jessica Byrd, a national political strategist known for boosting African-American candidates, became the subject of a breathless Enquirer article this morning. Simpson issued a statement implying the social media post by an out-of-town strategist was a non-story. “The real stories to be told are the ones Yvette is hearing every day at the doors of the people who live in Cincinnati,” Simpson’s campaign wrote in response to the Enquirer. Stay tuned for more on Stale Pale Male-gate from the paper of record when it comes to local Facebook posts.

Cincinnati is seventh in the country when it comes to places you want to live. If you’re a rat. Great. That’s great. We’re also number eight when it comes to bed bugs, but that’s down from being in second place last year. Rats interviewed said that beautiful parks, nightlife and Cincinnati's veritable mountains of orange cheese all played a role in luring them to the Queen City.

Cincinnati could get a Trump Hotel. But don’t expect to see the president’s name on the building. An official with the Trump company has proposed Cincinnati as a location for a new brand of hotels called Scion. That offshoot of the famous luxury hotel brand would focus on more economical digs than the usual Trump brand hotel, booking rooms at between $200 and $300 a night. Sweet.  

Will Butler County lawmaker State Rep. Wes Retherford address voters today as he heads to court on misdemeanor OVI and felony weapons charges? He hasn’t yet, so don’t hold your breath. Authorities found Rutherford passed out in a McDonald’s drive-thru March 12 with a loaded gun in his car following the Butler County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. Oops. Some fellow GOP lawmakers have called on Rutherford to resign from the State House, but so far, he’s not uttered a peep about his intentions. If he’s found guilty of the felony weapons charge, Rutherford would be ineligible to serve as a state lawmaker.

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