Morning News: Proposed law would penalize sanctuary city officials; Dennison demolition begins; the $100k Harambe Cheeto

Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel is supporting legislation that would hold public officials legally accountable for declaring their cities as sanctuary cities.

click to enlarge A rally outside City Hall after Cincinnati officials declared the city a sanctuary city. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
A rally outside City Hall after Cincinnati officials declared the city a sanctuary city.

Good morning all. It’s news time for you on this balmy February day.

Will Mayor John Cranley and other city officials be in hot water with the state for declaring Cincinnati a sanctuary city? Some state officials are pushing legislation that could have that consequence. State Rep. Candice Keller, who represents Middletown, has introduced legislation that would hold public officials legally accountable for declaring their cities as sanctuary cities. Cincinnati City Council and Cranely last week declared the city such, saying local law enforcement will focus on everyone's safety instead of enforcing federal immigration laws. Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel is vocally supporting Keller’s legislation. At a news conference Monday, Mandel and Keller said the proposed law would impose criminal and civil penalties on officials who declare their cities sanctuary cities and hold office holders liable for any crimes committed by undocumented people there.

Cranley has defended his declaration that Cincinnati is a sanctuary city, saying that the move doesn’t violate any federal laws and is about standing in solidarity with immigrants and refuges. Mandel and Keller said undocumented people bring crime and disease and need to be prohibited from entering local communities. Statistics don’t bear out the connection between crime and immigrants, however. Census data suggests that immigrants make up about 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, but account for just 1.5 percent of its prison population. Other numbers from federal law enforcement tell a similar story.

• It’s been a protracted legal fight, and another lawsuit is still pending, but demolition of the Dennison Hotel is underway. The 124-year-old building was fenced off yesterday and construction crews in hardhats began doing internal work removing asbestos in preparation for tearing the building down. That work comes as nearby property owner Matt Wood sues to block the demolition, saying the historic Dennison, designed by the firm of architect Samuel Hannaford, contributes to his property values. Wood is seeking a two-week delay on the demolition permit issued by the city after the Zoning Board of Appeals reversed a Historic Conservation Board decision denying permission to demolish the Dennison requested by building owners Columbia REI.

• Here’s something short but sweet: There’s a beer out there brewed from yeast collected on the grounds of Cincinnati’s Union Terminal. The German-style bock beer, crafted by Urban Artifact and available during a Museum Center CurioCity event at the brewer’s Northside bar Feb. 9, also has dried cherries added during the brewing process. The local-centric brew is another cool Cincinnati crossover beer tribute. Last month, Covington-based Braxton Brewery announced a collab with Graeter’s ice cream — a chocolate raspberry chip milk stout. Wow.

• Another short one of questionable news value: There’s an Ebay auction for a Cheeto shaped like Harambe, the gorilla who was shot after a child fell into his cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. The high bid on that Cheeto is $99,000. Is it real? I don’t know. But it is embarrassing for humanity either way. How much is the Trump-shaped Cheeto gonna go for, I wonder?

• Some of the fallout from a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act Republicans in Congress are pushing has been well-documented. Hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio could lose their health care, for instance, as the program’s Medicaid expansion ends and subsidies go away. But there’s a less-discussed danger to getting rid of the ACA — it could exacerbate the region’s heroin crisis by vastly reducing mental and physical health options for those already addicted and those at risk of becoming addicted. You can read more about those dangers here.

• Finally, as the Senate stands poised to vote in President Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today, some constituents of Ohio’s Senators have gotten creative. One Ohio woman who opposes DeVos’ nomination has set up a Go Fund Me page designed to equal the $50,000 DeVos gave to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s last reelection campaign. The Republican senator from Ohio says he’ll vote to confirm DeVos, who faces a 50-50 split vote in the Senate.

"If Betsy DeVos can buy Senator Portman's vote, we should be allowed to do the same,” Columbus’ Liz Plotnick-Snay, who started the funding drive, writes on the page.

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