Morning News: Cranley leads big in mayoral race fundraising; your tax dollars paid for campaign security; Portman to vote to approve DeVos

Usually, the nomination is fairly uncontroversial and glides right through the Senate. But DeVos, who has no public education experience and is a vocal proponent of charters and vouchers, has stirred up lots of antipathy among public education advocates.

click to enlarge Education advocates gather at an event protesting Donald Trump secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Education advocates gather at an event protesting Donald Trump secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos.

Hey hey Cincy. Here’s some end-of-the-week news before we all turn our brains off for a couple days.

How are the contenders in Cincinnati’s mayoral race stacking up when it comes to fundraising? Well, spoiler alert: One person is way ahead, and he happens to already be the mayor. As we talked about earlier this week, John Cranley has amassed about $1 million for his re-election bid. That dwarfs his opponents Councilwoman Yvette Simpson and former University of Cincinnati Board Chair Rob Richardson Jr. Simpson raised just over $150,000 in 2016, including more than $80,000 in the last six months of the year, according to fundraising reports. Cranley, on the other hand, raised $360,000 in that time. Richardson didn’t announce his campaign until after the filing deadline for those reports. Simpson’s campaign says they are supported by small donors and don’t expect to raise as much as Cranley, but are still confident their message will get out to voters and resonate. Cranley’s campaign has indicated they’ll spend their money on initiatives to highlight the mayor’s record.

• If you were a part of the class action lawsuit settlement Duke Energy agreed to in 2015, your check is in the mail. The energy company faced the lawsuit after Cincinnati Gas & Electric, which Duke acquired, cut deals with major local corporations and industry to give special deals on lower energy prices between 2005 and 2008. The deals were designed to ease opposition to a proposed rate hike from companies like Procter & Gamble and General Electric, the lawsuit claimed. Duke says it agreed to the $80 million settlement, which will be paid by shareholders in the form of $140 checks to eligible residential ratepayers, to avoid extended legal fees.

• Hey, did you know that you paid for security for the 14 visits the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns made to Cincinnati? You totally did with your tax money, which paid for increased Cincinnati Police presence at rallies and other events, but finding out exactly how much is difficult. The city says it considers campaign security part of its “core services,” doesn’t keep track of how much exactly those services cost and doesn’t seek reimbursement from campaigns. Other cities have the same policy, but at least a few try to recoup their money. West Chester Township, for instance, billed the Trump campaign $11,000 for security during his March campaign rally there. The campaign paid the township in April. Clinton paid a $1,700 reimbursement to the University of Cincinnati for security after a quick stop there in very early November.

• Cincinnati will soon have a Brewing Heritage Trail stretching 2.3 miles through Over-the-Rhine. The $5.2 million attraction will highlight what Cincinnati’s lively beer scene was like 150 years ago by showcasing old breweries and other historic landmarks. These landmarks will be delineated with signs as well as a dedicated smartphone app. Boosters have been working on the trail for six years and envision it as a tourist attraction akin to Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail.

• The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is opening an implicit bias lab called “Open Your Mind.” The lab, which will occupy the building’s first floor, will highlight the ways in which bias works in many peoples’ minds even when they’re not conscious of the prejudices they carry around. The Freedom Center has partnered with Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity on the lab, which is free with paid admission to the Center. Harvard University psychology professor Mahzarin Banaji will give an opening presentation on implicit bias today at 5:30 pm at the Center. The lab will be open to the public starting tomorrow.

• Finally, an unprecedented fight is taking place over President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and Ohio’s senators are on opposite sides of the battle. Usually, the nomination is fairly uncontroversial and glides right through the Senate. But DeVos has stirred up lots of antipathy among education advocates, including many local teachers. She has no public education experience and is a vocal proponent of charter schools and voucher programs, both of which are seen by critics as siphoning money away from public schools. DeVos has caught the ire of many Senate Democrats and even two Republicans and looks to have a bumpy ride to her nomination. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, has said he’ll vote against DeVos. But Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has indicated he’ll cast his vote for her. Republicans have a 52-48 seat majority in the Senate, but the defection of two GOP senators to the Democrats’ side means the vote is currently 50-50. DeVos critics hoped Portman might bow to pressure to vote against her, thus overriding a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence. But that seems unlikely and DeVos looks to eek out her nomination unless another Republican jumps ship.

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