Hey Cincy! Here’s your news this morning.
Car accidents along the stretch of Central Parkway with a controversial bike lane haven’t significantly risen since that lane was put in, a city report released Monday says. The report, first ordered by Cincinnati City Councilman Christopher Smitherman, who wants to remove the lanes, found that in 2012, previous to the lane being installed, there were 57 reports of crashes along the stretch of Central Parkway between Liberty Street and Linn Street, where the majority of the bike lane is. In 2015, there were 62 crashes. In 2014, the first year the bike lane was in operation, there were only 42 crashes on that stretch. What’s more, for the period from January through April this year, there were fewer crashes than any year since 2013. That year, the Cincinnati Police Department changed its policy such that minor crashes weren’t counted, meaning that year’s tally was probably higher.
• Speaking of City Hall, bigger raises proposed for city employees are up in the air due to questions about the process by which those raises would come about. Yesterday we told you about Cincinnati City Council’s budget and finance committee meeting, where they were considering giving city employees represented by major unions raises larger than those negotiated by city administration. That’s a proposal Mayor John Cranley first put forward Friday. As noted yesterday, though, several members of Council are heavily skeptical of the move. City Councilman Wendell Young called the plan a political ploy by Cranley to win support from unions as he looks ahead to a 2017 reelection bid. There were also revelations that, despite claims to the contrary by Cranley, the raises could make the city’s budget structurally unbalanced. This year’s raises could come from a surplus, but the additional pay bumps over the next two years in the proposal would send the city into $5.5 million and $7 million deficits respectively, City Budget Director Chris Bigham told Council. This fight looks to drag out longer, with Council postponing a vote on Cranley’s proposal until next month.
• The University of Cincinnati’s bid to join the Big 12 college football conference has gotten a major new supporter. Ohio Gov. John Kasich recently wrote letters to Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and each president of the conference’s member colleges touting UC’s credentials as a potential member. The conference has been considering expansion, and though most of its member schools are in Texas and Oklahoma, it also includes West Virginia University, a potential regional rival for UC should it receive an invitation to join the Big 12. If UC were tapped for the expansion, it could mean big revenue for the school’s football program, boosters says.
• Late last week, a state court sided with earlier court rulings that declared state regulations threatening to close Toledo’s last remaining abortion clinic were unconstitutional. Capital Care Network, which runs Toledo’s clinic, sued the state in 2014 after the Ohio Department of Health denied its license on the grounds that the hospital it had admitting privileges at, the University of Michigan Healthy Systems, was 50 miles away instead of 30. Capital Care was not able to find a closer hospital, because Ohio law stipulates that any abortion clinic must have admitting privileges at a local hospital and also that state-funded hospitals can’t enter into those agreements. Lucas County Judge Myron Duhart last year agreed with Capital Care that the restrictions imposed by the state represent an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The state court’s decision last week to uphold Duhart’s ruling could prime a battle in the Ohio Supreme Court, though Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office has not said yet whether an appeal will be filed in the case.
• Indiana Governor and GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence will skip an appearance in Lawrenceburg, Ind. planned for Thursday. Pence was slated to give the keynote address at the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments annual luncheon, but OKI CEO Mark Policinski says he’s no longer on the schedule. Pence agreed to the slot, which will now be taken by Indiana’s Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb, before he was selected to be running mate to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. It’s unclear if any future Greater Cincinnati appearances are in the works for Pence.
• As GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump navigates controversy around his comments to the family of a fallen military veteran, reporters are digging up his own history with the draft. Trump drew major criticism for his negative comments about Muslim immigrants who spoke at the Democratic National Convention on the loss of their son, a Marine who died in Iraq. Khizr Khan spoke eloquently about his son at the convention, but had some challenging words for Trump, asking if the real estate mogul had ever read the constitution. Trump fired back via Twitter, saying Khan had “no right” to criticize him. While attempting to explain his comments and praise the Khans, Trump then dug his hole deeper, saying that he had also made many sacrifices for his country, including building a number of “magnificent structures” and creating thousands of jobs. The remarks drew rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike. As consternation continues, The New York Times has unearthed Trump’s own record of military service, or, more accurately, his five draft deferments that excused him from serving during the Vietnam War. One of those deferments was for bone spurs in his feet, an issue Trump in the past has called “minor” and “temporary.”