Morning News: Cuts at the Enquirer; state lawmakers mull 'stand your ground' law

Under a proposed law, Ohioans wouldn't have to retreat before using deadly force in self defense and wouldn't have to prove their lives were in danger at the time of a deadly shooting.

Hello Cincy. Let’s get up to date on the news real quick.

The Cincinnati Enquirer has laid off four members of its editorial staff, including its last remaining arts reporter. Classical music reporter Janelle Gelfand was let go Tuesday, just weeks before the reopening of Music Hall — a story she’s been covering for years. Also gone: columnist Chris Graves, entertainment reporter Shauna Steigerwald and Community Press suburban editor Dick Maloney. The layoffs are part of a 1 percent budget cut Enquirer parent company Gannett instituted across the country this week. This story from WVXU has a lot of context about the layoffs, which show the continued erosion of coverage of the arts and culture from the city’s mainstream media.

• A personal note: I walk to work often and I hate sidewalk closures. I realize it may seem like a small gripe, but it’s a huge pain when you can’t walk down a given block because construction has closed the only pedestrian pathway. So it looks like I’ll be rerouting when I get downtown every morning, because construction on the upcoming project at Court Street and Central Parkway — which will include a long-anticipated downtown Kroger location — will mean that nearby sidewalks will be closed for the next two years. Some curb lanes will also be closed to drivers. Bownen Street, Central Parkway, Court Street and Walnut Street will be affected by the closures, which start today.

• More minor but also major traffic news — McMillan Ave. in Walnut Hills will now run two ways between May Street and the I-71 onramp. The street is one way for just a couple blocks before the ramp, but the change will make a big difference for motorists looking to jump on the highway from the neighborhood. The rest of McMillan running east was made two-way in 2012 after neighborhood residents asked for the change.

• Survivors of sexual assault say women making allegations are not taken seriously by universities — but lately, there have been a crop of lawsuits against universities by men who claim they've been treated unfairly during sexual assault investigations. Men accused of sexual assault at two local campuses say the universities gave them no way to defend themselves against accusations of rape or other sexual crimes, echoing a claim controversial U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos took up earlier this month as she pushes for reforms to the way schools handle sexual assault claims. Miami University and University of Cincinnati are both facing lawsuits from men who claim they were treated unfairly in response to federal Title IX sexual assault allegations. But while the lawsuit says UC has been too harsh in its pursuit of sexual assault claims, some victims and advocates say the school has actually been rolling back protection for assault survivors. Last month, Northern Kentucky University settled a lawsuit with a student who claimed the school didn’t do enough to keep a man who had sexually assaulted her off campus even after he continually harassed her. Last year, UC faced big backlash for sidelining a student survivor program called RECLAIM, which helped students who suffered from sexual assault. It has yet to replace that program — a source of continued ire for advocates there.

• Should a prosecutor have to prove that a person claiming self defense in shootings was actually defending themselves? Currently, state law works the opposite way — a person who shoots and kills someone else must prove her or his life was in danger. But some Republican Ohio lawmakers want to change that, making Ohio the 25th state in the nation to adopt so-called “stand your ground” legislation, in which a person doesn’t have to try to retreat before using deadly force in their own defense, and in which the burden of proof for that self defense falls on the prosecution. Critics, including some Democrat state lawmakers, say the bill would make it nearly impossible to prosecute someone for a shooting. The Ohio Senate and House are both mulling versions of the legislation now.

• U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican from Westwood, has mostly praised President Donald Trump’s Tuesday speech to the United Nations — a speech that horrified critics with its bellicose language toward North Korea and which has further inflamed tensions between the U.S. and other countries. But actually, Chabot says he does have one critique — he doesn't like the phrase "America first." In a blog post on his website yesterday, Chabot said that Trump’s assertions were too strident and isolationist.

"I didn’t care for it in his Inaugural Address on day one, and I didn’t care for it yesterday at the UN,” Chabot wrote about Trump’s “America first” language. “To me it comes off as too strident and isolationist, and can be potentially off-putting to our allies – many of whom have stood with us in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”

But, you know, besides alienating U.S. allies and ramping up potential for war, the speech was A-OK, Chabot wrote.

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