Morning News and Stuff

City, FOP tangle over police cruisers; Ohio to reimburse Planned Parenthood legal costs; thousands removed from voter rolls in Ohio

click to enlarge Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine

Good morning all, it’s Friday! And it’s National Donut Day. I hope you’re enjoying both to the fullest, because I’m about to hit you with some serious news.

We wouldn’t be Cincinnati (or, well, a city at all, probably) if we didn’t have some drama around city government, money and political optics. Today’s kerfuffle has to do with a fleet of new police cars.  Local FOP President Dan Hils slammed City Manager Harry Black in a recent post on social media, saying he’d heard that Black wants to pose with the police cars for a promotional photo ahead of the news conference announcing the new vehicles. Hils says the police department is currently making do with too few cars with too many miles, causing dangerous situations. City administration, including Black, on the other hand, say the cars aren’t ready for service and need computer systems, license plate readers, decals and CPD logos installed. Black says city crews are working overtime on the cars, which will be pressed into service as soon as they’re ready.

• The University of Cincinnati yesterday named Anthony Carter its new chief of police and tapped Maris Herold as its new assistant chief. Both have served long-term with the Cincinnati Police Department. The former chief and assistant resigned earlier this year after an independent report revealed they played a role in aggressive policing tactics that resulted in large racial disparities and may have contributed to the UC police shooting death of unarmed motorist Samuel Dubose in Mount Auburn. Officials with UC say that Carter and Herold will help bring about needed reforms at the department.

• Can we put the gorilla stuff behind us? Not yet, apparently. The tragic shooting of Harambe, a 17-year-old lowlands gorilla killed by zoo personnel after a 3-year-old fell into his pen last weekend, continues to ripple through the less enlightened chambers of the internet. The latest ill-advised stand taken on the gorilla’s behalf? The editorial board of the Toledo Blade, which has advocated for the firing of Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard and a total boycott of Cincinnati, including the Reds, over the gorilla’s death. That seems… a little insane, especially considering internationally recognized gorilla experts have weighed in supporting the zoo’s decision to act quickly to save the child’s life after the gorilla dragged the boy through water. I would say we should boycott Toledo, or at least the Blade, but this is honestly the first time I’ve read the Blade in, well, ever.

• Over-the-Rhine is about to get yet another brewery, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier. This one, however, will also offer wine and spirits as well as beer. The Henry Street Brewery and Distillery will, as its name suggests, operate at 108 Henry St. in part of the old Christian Moerlein building near Race and McMicken. The company’s website claims it will be the first such business in Cincinnati since prohibition to operate as a brewery, winery and distillery.

• Mayor John Cranley has appointed a senior Procter & Gamble exec to the board of the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority, which seeks to spark economic development around the region, among other tasks. P&G Director of Global Company Communications Damon Jones will fill a role vacated by philanthropist Otto Budig, who resigned earlier this year. Cranley says Jones is “a very impressive guy” who can help the port authority as it works on economic development projects outside the Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine. Jones joins other big names from the city’s business community on the board, which is chaired by former mayor Charlie Luken.

• Will former Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann someday replace fellow Republican Joe Deters as Hamilton County Prosecutor? Well, maybe. But not so fast. Hartmann, who resigned from his post last year ahead of this year’s election battle for his former seat, has expressed interest in the prosecutor job, Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou has said. But only in a vague, “someday” sort of way. Meanwhile, Deters has also joked about moving on from his post. But again, in a very noncommittal kind of way. Right now, Hartmann says he’s happy enjoying retirement. The change up, if it ever happened, would be big news — Deters has carved out a high-profile, sometimes controversial niche for himself as prosecutor here, and Hartmann seems to be one of the few big names who could fill that role if he left.

• The state of Ohio will reimburse Planned Parenthood to the tune of $45,000 in legal fees following a fight over the health organization’s disposal of fetal remains. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine earlier this year accused Planned Parenthood of dumping fetal tissue from abortions in Kentucky landfills, violating state laws that call for “humane disposal” of such remains. However, those accusations didn’t stick, and now the state and Planned Parenthood have settled a lawsuit the health organization filed against the state, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the legal battle.

• Finally, when is the last time you voted? Better go check. If it was 2008, you may not be able to vote in the November election in Ohio. That’s thanks to a process by which the state of Ohio updates its voter registration rolls. Anyone who hasn’t voted in the last three federal elections is dropped from those rolls, leaving an estimated 144,000 people unregistered in the state’s three largest counties alone. Many of those voters are reliable Democrats, causing controversy around the practice. As many as 30,000 people in some of the poorest neighborhoods in and around Cincinnati, many of them African American, have been removed from the rolls, an analysis by Reuters has found. State officials say the removals are necessary to update registration information and remove dead voters from the records, and point out that the process has been practiced for more than two decades.

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