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Sheriff body cameras delayed; Bevin signs anti-toll bill; will Scalia replacement dustup affect Ohio's U.S. Senate race?

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Hey all. Here’s the news today.

A deal to equip Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies with body cameras will be delayed, Sheriff Jim Neil announced yesterday. Hamilton County commissioners approved a deal between the Sheriff’s office and Taser, International for $1.3 million over five years, which would have provided body cameras as well as new Tasers for the department. However, contracts that big must be opened up to public bidding, so the county’s deal with Taser is on hold until other bids are solicited. The department has been looking into body cameras at a time when many law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Cincinnati Police Department, have taken steps to adopt the technology following controversial police shootings of civilians.

• In case you missed our update yesterday, Cincinnati police released the name of the man shot by officers in Cheviot.  Officers Eric Kohler, Zachary Sterbling and Scott McManis of the Cincinnati Police Department shot Paul Gaston, 37, Wednesday, after they say he pulled a gun. Those officers fired a total of nine shots at Gaston, who they say was pulling what turned out to be a realistic-looking Airsoft bb gun from his waistband.

Video of the incident taken by bystanders shows Gaston initially complying with orders to get on his knees. The video, taken from behind, shows Gaston make a motion toward his mid-section with his right arm, but does not show a gun. He was originally reported waiving a gun in Westwood in a 911 call by his girlfriend, who was not at the scene, but who says she was receiving texts from her sister, who was. Police followed several other calls to find Gaston after he wrecked his truck and walked to neighboring Cheviot. Gatson was the second person shot by CPD this year. The first, Robert Tenbrick, was also shot while he had a toy gun.

City officials, including Mayor John Cranley, said they’re standing behind the officers, who have been placed on procedural administrative leave as the shooting is investigated. Sterbling and Kohler have been flagged for receiving multiple complaints through the Citizen’s Complaint Authority in the past, but officials say they acted appropriately Wednesday.

• This is kind of lame. MadTree will be temporarily pulling production of my favorite of theirs, Gnarly Brown, due to conflicts with a California wine maker over the use of the word “gnarly.” Delicato Vineyard has filed a complaint with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office over MadTree’s use of the word, which the vineyard uses in its Gnarly Head wine. While this seems a little ridiculous on it face — it’s beer vs. wine, after all, and it’s not even the same exact phrase — far be it from me to contest California’s ownership of the word “gnarly.” MadTree will retool the beer’s branding slightly and begin production again.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has signaled he’ll sign a controversial bill passed by the state’s legislature outlawing tolls as a way to fund the looming $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. Tolls have been forwarded as one possible way to fund the prohibitively high cost of replacing the bridge, which is functionally obsolete but structurally sound for now. The span, which carries I-75 across the Ohio River, is on one of the busiest shipping routes in the country. The bill stipulates that tolling cannot be part of any project connecting Kentucky to Ohio without the approval of the state’s legislature, which will not approve the funding method as a way to pay for the bridge.

• Will the fight over a replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia affect Ohio’s U.S. Senate race? It could. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, has sided with other conservative senators who have signaled they will refuse to have confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s replacement nominations. They argue that Obama should wait until after the next election to let voters have a say on the pivotal placement. Currently, the court is divided evenly between four liberal and four conservative judges. Scalia was ultra-conservative, and Republicans would like nothing more than to replace him with someone ideologically similar. Portman has sided with most, but not all, Republicans in the chamber signaling they won’t give any confirmation hearings.

The question is, will that help or hurt him in a close race with Democrats, who look somewhat likely to nominate former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the March 15 primary? Ohio is a purple state, but Portman could rally his staunchly conservative base with the highly partisan move. On the other hand, it may not endear him to moderates and fence-sitters, who Strickland looks able to scoop up in November.

Portman’s taken some heat for the move from the Toledo Blade, among other editorial boards. While Democrats in the Senate, including Obama during his term, have opposed Republican presidents’ judicial nominees, they have done so through more traditional means — by voting no, by filibustering to avoid procedural votes on cloture, or closing debate on a nominee so a final vote can be taken during a confirmation hearing. Republicans are proposing something different and unprecedented: refusing to hold a hearing at all.

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