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SORTA avoids strike; former CPD chief wades into gun control debate; will feds investigate Ohio charters?

Former Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig
Former Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig

Hey all! I’m busy today working on a cover story about the economic future of Cincinnati’s DIY spaces (yes, really, we do weird stuff here in the news department) so let’s keep it short and sweet for news today. Here are a few things to take you into your weekend.

• The Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and its bus drivers, represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union, have come to a last-minute agreement that will more than likely forestall a strike by ATU employees. There were talks of a strike vote, which would have happened yesterday, after SORTA proposed running smaller buses along under-served routes. Those buses wouldn’t require commercial drivers licenses and SORTA wanted to pay the drivers less, which tweaked ATU. The terms of the deal haven’t been released, and will still have to be approved by drivers, but it looks like a strike has been averted. The clash came as questions swirl around how to improve Metro service in Cincinnati, which currently only reaches about 40 percent of the city’s jobs.

• Here’s good news for prospective students looking at a nearby university. Miami University is planning to lock in tuition rates for incoming classes, holding the costs of attending for each incoming class over four years. That means that incoming freshman will still pay the same rate their senior year. That’s a big deal as the cost of higher education and student debt balloon. Wish MU had done this when I was an undergrad, but yeah.

• A former Cincinnati Police Department chief is wading into the gun control debate. Current Detroit Police Chief James Craig says that having more citizens with guns makes everyone safer. “If you’re a terrorist, or a carjacker, you want an unarmed citizenry,” Craig said recently. His comments come as the debate over gun control flare up yet again across the U.S. following the mass killing of 14 people in San Bernadino, Calif. earlier this week and the mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last week. That debate is intertwined with a discussion about risks from radical terrorists following attacks by ISIS affiliates in Paris late last month. Craig says the 30,000 Detroiters with legal guns mean a harder task for criminals or terrorists. Meanwhile, gun control advocates point out that many more fatalities in the U.S. have resulted from domestic terrorists, many with legal guns, than from foreign-born religious extremists.

• The controversy over Ohio’s charter school system isn’t fading just yet, and may be the topic of a federal investigation. Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Education was rocked by revelations that officials withheld data from certain low-performing online charter schools in order to boost performance ratings for organizations that sponsor the for-profit private schools receiving state funds. The ODE official responsible for that omission, David Hansen, was dismissed from his position over the scandal, but so far, a state investigation into further wrongdoing hasn’t been forthcoming. Hansen is married to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign manager. After that dustup, the federal government awarded Ohio millions in grants for charter schools, but was apparently unaware of the scandals. Now, a public information request by The Akron Beacon Journal regarding those grants has been turned down by the Feds, who cite an exemption allowing them to withhold documents if they’re part of a federal investigation. Does that mean the feds are sniffing around Ohio’s charter system? Could be.

That’s it for me! Look at that. Under 600 words.

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