Morning News: Cranley backs Whaley in governor race; mountain bike trail could come to Mount Airy Forest; Ohio's unemployment rate rises

The Cincinnati Park Board voted yesterday to partner with the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance on a pilot 4.6-mile trail in the expansive woods on the city’s west side. That trail will be constructed using a $15,000 grant from outdoors retailer REI.

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Hey hey Cincy. Here’s a little news to take you into the weekend.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has thrown his support behind Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in her bid for governor. Whaley is competing with three other Democrats, including Greater Cincinnati resident and former State Rep. Connie Pillich, for a chance to take on the winner of the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, which also has four candidates.

• After a long push by cycling advocates, a mountain bike trail is coming to Mount Airy Forest. The Cincinnati Park Board voted yesterday to partner with the Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance on a pilot 4.6-mile trail in the expansive woods on the city’s west side. That trail will be constructed using a $15,000 grant from outdoors retailer REI and won’t cost the city any money in initial costs. CORA has pledged to perform upkeep duties on the trail.

• The Ohio Ethics Commission dinged Cincinnati NAACP President Rob Richardson Sr. with a couple-hundred-dollar fine this week for missing a 2016 hearing about a union-funded PAC that ran negative ads against Smitherman in 2013. Richardson contributed to that PAC. The group, called Cincinnatians for Jobs Now, ran negative ads against Smitherman during his 2013 Council bid, despite never filing local campaign finance reports or officially naming a treasurer. Union member Jonathan White led the group and paid financial penalties for those missteps. Richardson opposed Smitherman in an election to lead the NAACP in 2012. Smitherman won that election, but stepped down a year later as he ran for re-election to City Council.

• Cincinnati transit advocates the Better Bus Coalition are crying foul at a plan to end discounts for University of Cincinnati students and faculty who utilize Metro buses. In a statement yesterday, the group said the decision wasn’t made with sufficient public input opportunities and that it runs counter to Metro’s stated goal of increasing ridership. The program allows UC-affiliated riders to purchase unlimited use passes at a discounted rate. The Coalition says it understands that the costs of the program must be managed, but suggests lowering the discount available to students and staff instead of eliminating it entirely.

• Some residents in Green Township found racist flyers tucked into employment guides delivered to their houses. The flyers, purportedly from a branch of the KKK, bore messages about white supremacy. As that story details, however, most residents didn’t even open the orange-bagged employment guides, instead chucking them in the trash or letting them get soggy at the end of their driveways. Print media and all, you know.

• Yesterday, we told you about how the city of Franklin just up I-75 in Warren County decided to remove a roadside monument to Robert E. Lee. Well, some folks there are not happy about that decision at all. The monument is still intact and in the hands of Franklin Township officials, who aren’t saying what they’ll do with it just yet.

• Democratic Party leaders, including Chairman David Pepper and State Rep. Stephanie Howse, say that Ohio is becoming an “epicenter of hate group activity” and want to know why the state isn’t tracking hate group activity. Several prominent white supremacist leaders have worked in the state. In a press call yesterday, both called on Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office to do more to track hate groups.

Howse, the head of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, also called out conservative politicians like State Rep. Candice Keller, a Republican from Middletown who appeared on the radio show of Springboro Tea Party Founder and white supremacist Brian “Sonny” Thomas back in February. Keller says she didn’t know about his views on race at the time she appeared as a guest on the program. Over the weekend, Keller fired off an angry Facebook post about the removal of Confederate monuments across the country as violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va.

“Conservatives have surrendered for so long that now we are paying the price,” she wrote in the post, which was subsequently deleted. “It’s time to go on offense. No more running from the liars and the pillagers. It’s our country...”

• Ohio's unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent last month. That's a slight increase from the 5 percent unemployment the state saw in June, and higher than the national rate of 4.3 percent.

• Finally, the tragic international story you’ve probably already seen around — 13 people died in Barcelona yesterday after a terrorist attack involving a van mowing down pedestrians on one of the city’s famous promenades, and another died in an attack 60 miles away that authorities believe is connected. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Law enforcement officials have arrested four people in connection with the attacks, but the van’s driver remains at large.

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