Morning News: 'Enquirer' editor departs; Springer mulling run for governor; Bevin blasts public school teachers for coming to work

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is getting flack for comments about teachers in the state "hoarding sick days."

click to enlarge Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

Good morning all. Ready for a news update?

A group of Cincinnati City Councilmembers are looking to get the city to divest from companies tied to private prisons. Investments held by the city’s pension fund include more than $2.5 million in stocks tied directly or indirectly to the for-profit prison industry. You can read more about the effort, and the reasoning behind it, in this story.

• Almost a year after a motorist hit and killed a popular Northside business owner, city officials are undertaking a pedestrian safety study there. Neighborhood residents are glad it’s happening, but are also “fed up” with the wait for traffic studies and other measures, they say. The city’s efforts will include gathering data on walk signals, jaywalking, vehicles running stop signs and lights as well as blowing through crosswalks, speeding, lack of sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes and other issues.

• The city of Cincinnati has awarded almost $10 million in contracts — 27 percent of total contracts paid — to businesses owned by women and minorities in the first three months of 2017, according to a city report issued Wednesday. That comes after a concerted push started last year to get more minority- and women-owned businesses into contracts for city work. A study commissioned in 2013 by Cincinnati City Council found that only a small percentage of city contracts at that time went to businesses owned by women and people of color. Based on that study, the city took up efforts to increase contracts going to those businesses.

• Just two years after taking the helm of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s newsroom, editor Peter Bhatia is on his way out the door to head another Gannett paper, the Detroit Free Press. Bhatia’s last day at the city’s daily will be Sept. 13. His replacement hasn’t been named yet.

• Online retail giant Amazon already has a big presence in Northern Kentucky, and soon it could also have a major facility north of Cincinnati. The company is looking at the possibility of building a distribution center that would employ more than 1,000 people, most likely in Monroe. Documents from the Ohio Development Services Agency reveal that the Ohio Tax Credit Authority is offering Amazon a 10-year tax credit worth $3.8 million to bring the facility here on the condition that it stays open at least 13 years. Of course, it’s not a sure thing by any means. Ohio is competing with multiple other states for the project, and Amazon hasn’t commented on the potential facility.

• Let’s stay up north for a minute, where people in Franklin Township are getting wild over the removal of a small monument to Confederate general Robert E. Lee. This story tells a bit about why people want to keep the monument to a slave owner who led an insurgent war against the United States. It’s a weird one.

• Fentanyl, the powerful opioid that has been added to heroin and other drugs, has caused overdose deaths to double over the past five years and accounted for more than half of the state’s 4,000 drug overdoses last year, according to a new report by the Ohio Department of Health. Fentanyl and other additives can be hundreds of times more powerful than heroin itself. You can read more about the drug’s origins and the toll it’s taken in this CityBeat story from last year.

• Could a former Cincinnati mayor and host of… that one talk show… run for governor? It seems Jerry Springer is mulling a bid to run the state after Ohio Gov. John Kasich is term-limited out of office next year. A close friend of the Democratic politician and TV personality said he’ll make a final call on whether he’ll compete in the Democratic Party primary against the likes of Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former State Rep. Connie Pillich within the next two weeks.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, got flack from powerful state lawmakers in his own party after comments about how teachers in the state are “hoarding sick days.” The comment came late last week as Bevin was discussing the state’s pension, which is $33 billion short of the money it will need to pay out over the next three decades. Currently, the state’s system lets retiring workers cash in 30 percent of their unused sick days, a practice a state audit recommended be eliminated. But Bevin’s comments were a step too far for GOP Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, who Tuesday told media that he was “disappointed” with the governor’s remarks. Hoover’s wife has been a public school teacher for a quarter century.

“She goes to work because for many of her kids every year, it's the only time they will get a hug during the day," Hoover told reporters in response to Bevin’s comments. "I would encourage everyone out there to tone down the rhetoric, to tone down the hate and the comments but recognize we've got a serious problem and let's all pull together and try to get it solved."

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