Morning News: Richardson takes offensive in latest debate; UC law dean files federal suit against school; officer interviews in Rice shooting released

The content of last night's debate stayed the same as past events, but the tone has gotten more aggressive. Cranley worked hard to hit his opponents on the streetcar, while Rob Richardson and Yvette Simpson pushed back on poverty, safety and other issues

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click to enlarge Transit, including looming shortfalls for Metro, has become a key issue in the mayoral primary race. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Transit, including looming shortfalls for Metro, has become a key issue in the mayoral primary race.

Good morning all. Here’s a little news today.

Cincinnati’s three mayoral primary candidates squared off yet again last night in a debate hosted by WKRC Local 12 TV at the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Over-the-Rhine. There wasn’t much new in the way of policy discussion, but the dynamics of this debate certainly shifted. Just days after campaign finance filings showed a slight edge for former University of Cincinnati Board Chair Rob Richardson Jr. over Mayor John Cranley in fundraising since Jan. 1, Richardson went on the offensive against Cranley, and to a lesser extent, Cincinnati City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson. Richardson and Simpson both hit the mayor on the city’s looming budget deficit, surge in shootings, firing of former Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, a decision to go over City Manager Harry Black’s head in giving pay raises to some city employees and other issues. Cranley fired back, pointing out that the city’s credit rating has been upgraded during his tenure and that many within CPD said former chief Blackwell was verbally abusive and mistreated subordinates. Cranley again worked hard to pin his opponents with charges that they supported an expansion of the city’s streetcar project over the basic services he champions — an assertion that Simpson strongly pushed back against, saying the mayor hadn’t kept promises on keeping the city safe and lifting its residents out of poverty. There’s one more debate before the May 2 primary, which will be hosted by The Cincinnati Enquirer and Fox 19 this Thursday.

• Speaking of the mayoral race, Simpson is set to unveil her proposals for new programs that could boost employment and job accessibility in the city today. According to a news release from her campaign, Simpson will unveil her “Let’s Get to Work” policy proposals, which the campaign says are aimed at attracting the “middle class jobs of the future” in high-tech manufacturing and green technology, at a 5:30 p.m. news conference downtown. The proposals will also detail ideas for connecting workforces to jobs via “robust, multi-modal transportation.” We’ll fill you in on the details after the news event.

• The suspended dean of the University of Cincinnati’s law school has filed a federal lawsuit against the school, claiming she was illegally put on administrative leave by interim UC Provost Peter Landgren. Jennifer Bard was the first female dean of the law school when she was hired in 2015. According to her suit, she was put on leave following faculty pushback to her efforts to reduce the law school’s financial deficits. Displeasure around Bard’s efforts to close those deficits directly led to a letter from a group of senior faculty asking for her ouster.  Bard’s suit claims the school deprived her of due process before firing her and that her performance had been lauded and rewarded by the school previously.

• Cincinnati-based developer Urban Sites is spending $10 million to redevelop two buildings in Over-the-Rhine into more than 23,000 square feet of office space. The move will bring “a lot of change over the next year” to the corridor, according to a representative from the company. The Business Courier has more on that here. 

• A Cincinnati Public Schools high school is the best public school in Ohio, according to a new ranking by U.S. News and World Report, and four of the state’s top five public schools are in the Greater Cincinnati area. In addition to Walnut Hills High School, which got the number one spot, Wyoming High School, Indian Hill High School and Madeira High School all landed in the top five. 

• Finally, let’s go to Cleveland for a minute. In November 2015, the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland Police officer Timothy Loehmann drew national attention and fueled scrutiny into racial disparities in law enforcement. Now, officials have finally released police interviews with Loehmann and his partner, Frank Garmback, that were conducted immediately after the shooting. The sometimes-emotional videos show the officers’ reactions to the incident and also reveal some inconsistencies in the stories they later told a grand jury, which declined to indict either in Rice’s death.

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