Hello all. There’s a lot of news happening right now. Let’s jump in.
The sale of local radio station WNKU left a void for many music fans. But every time a door closes, a window opens and some rad jams pour out (or something. I dunno it’s really early in the morning.) Anyway, all that is to say that Northside brewery Urban Artifact has announced plans to launch a low-power local music station at 1660 AM called Radio Artifact. You’ll be able to hear the station in a 2.5 mile radius around Northside, including in areas of Camp Washington, Clifton, College Hill, Mount Airy and Westwood. Urban Artifact’s owners tentatively expect the station to go live in late August.
• Yesterday, we told you about how Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police passed a vote of no-confidence in Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and voted to withdraw from a refresh of the city’s historic 2003 community policing agreement. That move has drawn pushback from another prominent police group in town: The Sentinels, Cincinnati’s fraternal organization for black officers. Sentinels President Eddie Hawkins blasted the FOP’s votes yesterday in a statement, pointing out that they were passed with the votes of many retired officers who don’t represent the Cincinnati Police Department’s current staff. Hawkins also pushed back against a statement by FOP President Dan Hils admonishing police accountability activists like Black Lives Matter to focus on what he called “black-on-black crime” instead of protesting the police. Hawkins called that statement “absurd.”
“Collaborative policing has worked in Cincinnati and it is now in danger," Hawkins said in his statement. "All of us should be concerned — officers and citizens alike. As officers, we should not be perpetuating untruths about certain members of our society. Black-on-black crime is a myth, which myth officers should not be furthering. White people primarily commit crimes against other white people. Crime, especially violent crime, is driven by opportunity and proximity — a fact that is true for all races.”
• Recently unsealed records documenting sidebar conversations between Ray Tensing attorney Stew Mathews, Hamilton County Prosecutors and Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz reveal the contentious role race played in former University of Cincinnati police officer Tensing’s second trial for the shooting death of unarmed motorist Sam DuBose. During one pretrial sidebar, Prosecutor Seth Tieger expresses concerns that Mathews dismissed two potential jurors because they were black. Later sidebars focused on the admissibility of statistics showing Tensing stopped a much higher percentage of black motorists than UCPD’s average — the highest proportion of anyone on the force. Ghiz ruled those statistics wouldn’t be allowed as evidence.
“Let’s stop this,” Ghiz says about discussion of that evidence. “This jury doesn’t need to hear this. It’s not going to make anybody feel better about anybody’s side, all right? All it does is make me upset.”
• A mountain biking group says it isn’t responsible for the extension of trails in Mariemont that have led to damage for Native American burial grounds and other historic sites, despite statements from others to the contrary. Mariemont officials and University of Cincinnati archeologist Ken Tankersley have pointed to the Cincinnati Off Road Alliance as the driving force behind the expansion of a nature trail at Dogwood Park. But CORA says a residents group called the South 80 Committee, named for another park served by the trail, actually extended the path. The group says it is committed to both protecting the historic sites and keeping the path open. But that may be difficult. Mariemont Mayor Dan Policastro has said he expects the village’s Council to vote to outlaw mountain biking in the area around the sites next month.
• Northern Kentucky-based biblical theme park Ark Encounter had its state sales tax credits pulled after selling its land to its nonprofit arm to dodge local admissions taxes for safety services. So it went ahead and sold the land back to its for-profit arm. Crosswater Canyon, the nonprofit arm of Ark owners Answers in Genesis, could claim religious tax exemption its for-profit affiliate could not. But Crosswater isn’t covered in the state’s tax credit deal, meaning the group would lose millions in sales tax rebates. So now Ark Encounter is doing the sales tax shuffle to remain eligible for the money.
• The state of Ohio resumed executing death row inmates today, putting 43-year-old Ronald Phillips to death at 10 am this morning. It's the first execution in Ohio in three and a half years following controversy around the state's use of lethal injection drugs that may cause terrible pain. That controversy continues.
• President Donald Trump yesterday promised that Congress is one step closer to “liberating our citizens from this Obamacare nightmare” during his stop in Youngstown. Trump also touched on his 2016 election victory, his promises to get tough on crime and illegal immigration and other familiar topics during the speech, including pledges to bring manufacturing back to places like Youngstown, which has seen a big decline in its local steel industry. Trump’s promises were welcomed heartily by his supporters, but other residents remain doubtful manufacturing is coming back to the region.
• Trump spoke as the Senate voted to proceed to debate on an as-yet-undefined bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act. About 700,000 Ohioans received insurance through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which would likely be dismantled by whatever bill the Senate settles on. Among the yes votes in the Senate: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.
• One more Trump item: The president announced today via Twitter that the U.S. government will "not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." The announcement caused immediate push back from LGBT groups and others.