Morning News: Council passes budget; NAACP to put Cincy in national spotlight; House Democrats stage sit-in over gun control

Council finalized the city's fiscal plan yesterday, passing most of City Manager Harry Black's and Mayor John Cranley's suggestions with a few tweaks of their own.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland

Good morning all. This is my last morning news before I jet off for D.C. followed by a week of vacation. You should still feel free to hit me with news tips or just tweet bad jokes and puns at me while I’m gone, though.

Cincinnati City Council was nice enough to finish up its budget process before I leave, which was cool of them. Council yesterday finalized the city’s fiscal plan, passing most of City Manager Harry Black’s suggestions and Mayor John Cranley’s suggestions while getting in a few tweaks of their own. Among the last-minute changes Council approved: Councilman Chris Seelbach’s moves to add money for blight-reduction program Future Blooms and money for the city’s hillside stair sets. You can read about what’s in the budget in this week’s issue or in the blog rundown here.

• Outgoing University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono has been roundly praised for his four-year stint leading the school. But his record on one very important issue is still in question. UC has seen increased enrollment and fundraising, but has it become a more diverse and inclusive place since Ono took the helm? The numbers say not really. UC’s total black enrollment dropped from 8.6 to 8.4 percent. Black students at the flagship Clifton campus rose only slightly from 5.8 to 6.2 percent. Black faculty crept just slightly above 4 percent of total faculty. That’s a big contrast to Cincinnati as a whole, which is 46 percent black. How much of this is in a president’s hands is a valid question, but activists say Ono hasn’t done enough to change the situation at UC.

• The one-year anniversary of the shooting death by former UC police officer Ray Tensing of Samuel DuBose coincides with one of the country’s biggest political conventions, once again focusing the nation’s attention on Cincinnati. The NAACP national convention will take place in Cincinnati from July 16-20, and the event could draw both GOP presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as President Barack Obama. All of the drama of the most unusual and stressful political atmosphere in recent memory will descend on the city as many observe the painful first anniversary of DuBose’s death. Hopefully, the NAACP event will be an occasion for healing and solidarity.

• Fundraisers for Music Hall renovations are looking for the final puzzle pieces in the $135 million efforts. The rehab, which is already underway, is still $2.7 million short of being fully funded, and big-name philanthropists like Otto M. Budig, who is leading the fundraising effort, are calling out for last-minute donations. Budig says he hopes to raise the money in the next 60 days. So, like, check your couch cushions and see what you can scrape up, k?

• Here’s an update on the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Rob Portman and his challenger, former Ohio governor Ted Strickland: They’re still neck and neck, according to new polls. The two have been wrangling over Portman’s endorsement of Donald Trump and Strickland’s record in Ohio’s coal country. This one is going to stay close all the way to November, it looks like.

• Finally, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday began a sit-in to protest the fact that the House wouldn’t be voting on gun control legislation in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Orlando, one of the worst in American history. The sit-in caused all kinds of consternation, halting proceedings and pushing House Speaker Paul Ryan to put the House in recess. That led to House cameras sending feeds to CSPAN getting turned off, leaving those wanting to see the protest relying on social media video feeds. The sit-in ended earlier this morning.

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