Morning News: Third mayoral debate yields few surprises; infant mortality rate twice as high for black babies in Hamilton County; beware hippo scams

The infant mortality rate is dropping in Hamilton County but is still twice as high for African-American babies, according to a study by Cradle Cincinnati.

click to enlarge Union Terminal - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Union Terminal

Good morning Cincy! It’s news time.

Cincinnati’s three mayoral primary contenders squared off last night for a debate hosted by WCPO. They talked about… get ready for it… the streetcar. I for one am glad that we as a city are finally having a frank, no-holds-barred conversation about this often-ignored topic.

All sarcasm aside, the debate was mostly a reprise of the candidates’ past two forums, with spirited discussions about transit, reducing gun violence, affordable housing and more, but little new information or fine-grained policy detail presented. Mayor John Cranley sought to paint his opponents, especially Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, as ardent supporters of an expensive and exclusive transit project at the expense of funds for police, neighborhood development and other projects. Simpson worked to paint Cranley as something of an autocratic mayor who has spent more time and money on parking garages than on city residents and whose attempts to address the city’s poverty problem and other issues have fallen flat. Simpson said Cranley hasn’t made good on a promise to lift 4,000 out of poverty with his Hand Up Initiative. Cranley says he’s reduced childhood poverty by 5 percent during his tenure. Meanwhile, former University of Cincinnati Board Chair Rob Richardson Jr. pressed the idea that both candidates have had ample opportunities to solve problems, including the city’s pressing Metro bus shortcomings and 40,000-unit affordable housing gap, and have not. Isn’t election season fun?

• The infant mortality rate is still twice as high for African-American babies in Greater Cincinnati, according to numbers released today by Cradle Cincinnati. Overall, however, infant mortality is down. Ninety-seven babies died in Hamilton County last year, down from 100 in 2015, and that rate has been dropping for years. During a five-year period starting in 2012, Hamilton County saw a 20 percent reduction in infant deaths compared to five years previous. But huge disparities between babies in white communities and black communities remain.

• Which big historic preservation projects are lining up to try and win Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits? A hint: there are 14 of them, and one of them seeking $5 million looks like a giant radio. Check out this story from the Business Courier on the rest.

• A woman from Mexico picked up in Fairfield on immigration charges could be hours away from deportation, despite the fact she has children here and was previously given a legal work visa until July by federal authorities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested Maribel Trujillo and she has been in custody since last week, first at the Butler County Jail and later at Morrow County Jail, which is near a Columbus airport that is used to fly undocumented immigrants back to their countries of origin. Authorities haven’t deported Trujillo yet due to court delays, but could put the mother of four on a plane by this afternoon.

• Let’s go a bit far afield into Kentucky for a minute, shall we? Perhaps you saw the video of the man dragged kicking and screaming off a United Airlines flight after he wouldn’t volunteer to leave the plane so four United employees could be on the overbooked flight. David Dao, a Greater Louisville-based doctor, told United employees he had to get home to see patients in the morning and would not leave his seat. Chicago Police officers then forcibly removed him, bloodying his lip after his head hit an armrest on the plane. Now, the Louisville Courier-Journal has published an odd story about Dao and a 2004 drug conviction. That conviction led to five years’ probation and the forfeiture of his medical license. Dao served his probation and regained his license in 2015, however, and has been practicing ever since. The real question: What does this story have to do with Dao getting dragged off an airplane by police after he paid for a ticket and was seated on the plane?

• Finally, here’s some bummer news for you: Some people have no soul and will scam you with gear they claim benefits a very cute animal. The Cincinnati Zoo has warned that fans of the zoo’s famous baby hippo Fiona, whose struggle to grow strong has captivated well-wishers across the country, is featured on T-shirts you can buy on the internet. Some companies making the shirts claim that the proceeds benefit the baby hippo. But the zoo says that’s not true. Buyer beware.

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