Hello all. Here’s a quick shot of news as we speed toward this short week’s end.
You’ve probably heard all about Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District and the questions around the millions of dollars in contracts it reportedly paid out without a proper bidding process. Those revelations have triggered an independent city audit of MSD. But how independent will that audit be? As City Council members continue to wait to receive a report on that audit, some have asked questions about whether it will be trustworthy. Written into its language, for example, are stipulations about how the auditor will work with city administration to gather data and draft the final report. Council members like Kevin Flynn and Wendell Young have questioned the lack of information they’ve received about the audit process, saying it should have been made public by now. Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black have received briefings on the audit, but findings have yet to be made available to Council or the general public. The city says the audit is currently with the city’s solicitor’s office, which is verifying information before the audit’s release.
• In the months following the University of Cincinnati police shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose, UC’s then-police chief Jason Goodrich received a $3,000 bonus on top of his $140,000 salary. Goodrich has since left the department after an independent report suggested he bore some responsibility for UC’s shift toward more aggressive and racially disparate policing efforts. UC officials who approved the bonus, which came in November, say they were unaware of Goodrich’s role in that strategic shift, which the report says may have contributed to DuBose’s death. UC is set to announce its new choice for police chief today.
• Perhaps this will be the beginning of putting the international controversy around Harambe the gorilla’s death behind us. The Cincinnati Police Department doesn’t recommend filing charges against the mother of a 3-year-old boy who climbed into a gorilla pen at the Cincinnati Zoo, necessitating the shooting of the gorilla. CPD has wrapped up its investigation into incidents that led up to the shooting death of the gorilla and say there’s no evidence the mother of the child acted in a criminally negligent manner.
• As we’ve talked about a lot in the pages of CityBeat, there’s a big divide between the northern and southern sections of Over-the-Rhine, and the boundary between the two is Liberty Street. For years, folks have pitched ideas for ways to make that wide stretch of fast-moving traffic more pedestrian and bike friendly. Now, after a slew of public meetings, the city is toying with such an idea — returning about 20 feet of right away along the street to potential development and adding bike lanes and other elements. There was a great story in last week’s Cincinnati Business Courier about that plan. But it’s not the only proposal out there. Another suggestion by northern OTR’s Brewery District Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation originally drawn up in 2011 would bring Liberty down to three lanes of traffic — something the city has rejected — in exchange for a so-called “complete street” development with huge sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and other people-friendly amenities.
• Here’s a short bit of vague, but good, news: Kroger hasn’t given up on building a grocery store in downtown Cincinnati, its CEO says. Company head Rodney McMullen says the grocery giant has been working with the city for years to make the downtown store a reality, and that it will happen eventually. Great. I hope eventually means “yesterday.” Meanwhile, Kroger has had a huge week — it hired more than 11,500 people around the country, including 800 in Greater Cincinnati. Really? You can hire the equivalent of the student body at my alma mater but you can’t build one grocery store? Let’s get this done, Kroger. Also, make your Walnut Hills location better.
• Looks like I won’t be seeing any familiar faces among law enforcement professionals when I cover the Republican National Convention next month. Cincinnati police won’t be making the trip to Cleveland to help keep the peace during the RNC, which is expected to draw 30,000 people and could get rowdy. And with good reason. While Cleveland has put out a call for help from other law enforcement agencies, Cincinnati’s finest will have their own event to deal with: The NAACP’s national conference will be in our city at the same time and is expected to draw 10,000 people. Law enforcement in Butler County have also declined to go to Cleveland, saying the city appears to have enough support at the time being.
• Finally, speaking of Cleveland: An Ohio sports team is playing for a championship! Unfortunately, it’s not a Cincinnati-based team. But King James (as in Lebron James for you non-basketball folks out there) and the Cleveland Cavaliers are repping Ohio against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals, and it’s past time the Midwest had a victory in something over smug west coasters. Game one is tonight in Oakland. This little bit of sports news is also a great chance to catch up with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who tweeted some encouragement for the Cavs today. A month after ending his presidential primary bid, Kasich is sporting some surprisingly laid-back and stylish scruff and a v-neck T in a probably very calculated attempt at that “common man sports guy” aesthetic. Probably would’ve pulled off the look, too, if he hadn’t tweeted himself in an entirely wood-paneled room that looks like somewhere someone named Rockefeller would smoke a mouthful of expensive cigars.