Morning News: Music Hall walkway replacement unlikely, but something bigger may be coming; suit alleges civil rights violations by Columbus police

It would cost $8 million to replace a span the city removed between Music Hall and a parking garage, making a new bridge unlikely. But a memo from City Manager Harry Black reveals a bigger project may be in the works.

Good morning all. Here’s your news today.

A replacement walkway over Central Parkway to Music Hall is looking more and more unlikely despite City Council support. But is something bigger on the way? While detailing the costs of replacing a deteriorated walkway the city removed between a parking garage and Music Hall, Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black outlined the preliminary talks with 3CDC about what could be a big new development at the site. Black dropped mention of a project that would take up the entire block and serve as a “gateway between Over-the-Rhine and the West End” in a memo about the walkway. The span could cost as much as $8 million, making its construction unlikely. There were few other details about the potential larger development in the memo.

• Hamilton County Commissioners yesterday met with Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials about a plan to re-purpose, or perhaps sell, the north building of the library’s downtown campus. During last week’s County Commission meeting, commission president Todd Portune was critical of the library board of trustees’ June vote to move forward with that plan before seeking public input. But critics of the library deal who fear a private developer will be able to purchase the north building say commissioners yesterday stopped short of asking trustee chair Allen Zaring and library director Kim Fender tough questions.  Among their concerns — potential conflicts of interest between trustees, 3CDC, which has been contracted to explore the sale of the building, and a commercial real estate firm that appraised the building at far less than what it cost to build 20 years ago. Activists with the Our Library, Our Choice campaign expressed disappointment during yesterday’s meeting, and plan to attend the library board of trustees’ next meeting Oct. 10 to protest.

• If you have to reassure thousands of people that a bridge isn’t falling down, well, that’s not so great. The Ohio Department of Transportation is responding to a viral post that has more than 20,000 shares showing alleged deterioration of the Western Hills Viaduct. ODOT’s response is sort of like my response when I get a bad haircut — that’s how it’s supposed to look. The bridge is structurally sound, engineers say, though it is outdated and must be replaced eventually. That’s going to cost about $335 million — money local and state officials are just starting to figure out how to scrape together.

• Some parents are pushing local schools to keep data on student suicides following a spate of high-profile incidents in which area students have killed themselves, many after apparently suffering from bullying. Among those was the suicide of 8-year-old Carson Elementary student Gabriel Taye earlier this year. Taye’s family is now suing the board of education and pushing for new laws to prevent similar tragedies. Currently, state law requires schools to track and address bullying incidents and train teachers in suicide prevention techniques, but doesn’t require that schools keep track of how many students kill themselves. Families like Taye’s would like to see laws expanded so that schools are required to do more to address potential suicides.

• Workers with Cincinnati retail giant Macy’s have filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the company. Four employees at Macy’s showcase New York City location say that the company fired them after they pushed back against policies directing them to racially profile Asian shoppers. According to the lawsuit, Macy’s discouraged sales to Asian customers over fears they might be resellers hawking goods from the department store chain on grey markets overseas. Macy’s says the allegations are false and expressed confidence the company would prevail in court.

• A federal lawsuit filed Sunday says that the Columbus Police Department violated the civil rights of a man they arrested Sept. 1, and that officers aren’t appropriately trained or disciplined when it comes to excessive force against civilians, especially people of color. Plaintiff Timothy Davis says that the lack of training and accountability has led to numerous incidents of police brutality over the years, including his own arrest earlier this month, when officers verbally abused, punched and kicked him while trying to subdue him. The department says Davis was a suspect in an incident a year prior in which officers were injured while trying to make an arrest. Cellphone video shows plainclothes officers struggling with Davis during the recent incident. One of those officers, Joseph Bogard, was placed on desk duty by the department last week for “inappropriate” comments captured by his body camera that he made during the incident.

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