Morning News: Bigger raises for city employees?; Cranley, Simpson fundraising totals; Democrats and the working class

It’ll be a busy Monday at City Hall, with three City Council committee meetings scheduled throughout the day.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

Good morning all. Hope you had an awesome weekend. I checked out the Price Hill Creative Community Festival Friday and Saturday, which was amazing. Anyway, here’s your news today.

It’ll be a busy Monday at City Hall, with three City Council committee meetings scheduled throughout the day. Among the things they’ll discuss: a bigger-than-average raise for city employees represented by major unions. Mayor John Cranley proposed a five percent raise beginning in December for those employees last week, followed by another five percent raise in 2018 and a four percent raise in 2019. That suggestion came even though the city has already bargained with the unions, and in some cases will pay more under Cranley’s plan. That has some on Council concerned that the proposal circumvents the city’s collective bargaining negotiation procedures. City Manager Harry Black, who is currently negotiating with the Fraternal Order of Police regarding wages, also pushed back against the idea. Black said such a move could erode the power city administration has in entering into collective bargaining agreements.

• Speaking of Cranley, let’s talk about 2017 and his coming reelection bid, because clearly nothing interesting is happening this year on the politics front, right? With less than a year-and-a-half before voters take to the polls, and with no declared opponent just yet, Cranley has about $440,000 in his campaign fund to spend. Compare that with potential primary challenger City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who has about $84,000 right now. Cranley raised more than $200,000 in the first half of this year, while Simpson raised about $70,000. Simpson, who would more than likely run to the left of Cranley’s moderate to conservative stances, has yet to declare she’s running, however, and could see a big uptick in fundraising if she does. Some of Cranley’s big donors of the last six months include two Indianapolis developers, Flaherty & Collins and Core Redevelopment. The former and its subsidiaries gave Cranley $10,000; the latter, $5,000. Other, more local businesses and their leaders also gave substantially to Cranley. Meanwhile, Simpson has received a number of smaller donations from neighborhood activists and some local business leaders like Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation Executive Vice President Leslie Maloney, who gave $1,100.

• The Cincinnati Police Department’s peer review program, which oversees officer discipline, is “essentially broke,” CPD executive assistant chief Lt. Col. David Bailey said April in e-mails recently published by The Cincinnati Enquirer. While Bailey has said that since that time, things have gotten better, the department still needs to revamp its internal discipline reviews. In the past decade, discipline of CPD officers has been reversed or reduced in more than half of cases seen by peer review panels, which are composed of five CPD officers. CityBeat detailed potential discipline problems within the department in our April cover story about the aftermath of the 2001 civil unrest in Over-the-Rhine, which you can read here.

• Christopher Lee Cornell, the local suspect in a terror plot against the U.S. capitol building, is in court today on charges related to that incident. Cornell, who definitely did not front the seminal '90s band Soundgarden, was arrested by the FBI in January of last year after he made threats and statements supporting ISIS on social media and purchased two assault rifles and ammunition. Cornell initially pleaded innocent to the charges against him, and his lawyers have brought up questions about his mental state. Today’s court date is in relation to a change of plea request from Cornell’s attorneys, which could mean he may plead guilty.

• Finally, if you’ve been following the presidential election this year, this is an interesting article about how working class voters and the Democratic Party have been increasingly parting ways, giving an opening to candidates like the GOP’s presidential nominee Donald Trump. The upshot of this article’s interesting analysis, which is worth mulling over (if not entirely convincing): Democrats’ talking points about a changing work force and the need for college education for all aren’t resonating with older, mostly white working-class voters, and could spell big trouble for the party come November. The article goes on to claim that both parties, but especially Democrats, have failed at offering much of substance to the working class, and that that vacuum has allowed a fear-driven candidate like Trump a chance to capture big votes.

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