Morning News: Children's expansion primed for Council approval; city to rebuild Music Hall walkway; Sessions DOJ to investigate college affirmative action

Cincinnati City Council could vote on the Children's Hospital expansion today, but some community members in Avondale are up in arms about the $550 million project.

Music Hall
Music Hall

Good morning all. Here’s a quick news rundown to get you through the middle of the week.

As we’ve talked about before here in the morning news, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has some big expansion plans that are nearing final approval at City Hall. Cincinnati City Council could vote on the project today — or not — but either way, some community members in Avondale are up in arms about the roughly $550 million project that would mean demolition of homes and rerouting of Erkenbecker Avenue there.

The expansion would create a 10-story tower, a 1,100 parking garage and a new emergency center with a helipad on the roof. Children’s first unveiled the project in March, and the city’s Planning Commission approved it unanimously last month. Council’s neighborhoods committee was scheduled to vote on the deal yesterday, but it didn’t have quorum to do so. The committee will try to get a quorum during a special meeting today before Council’s regular meeting. If they can do so, full Council will vote on zoning changes needed to let the project move forward.

• You know that weird bridge that goes over Central Parkway between Music Hall and the parking garage across the street? It’s apparently in danger of “imminent collapse” and has been closed by the city as it awaits demolition. That looked to be the end of the story, except now the city is saying it will replace the span. A Council committee on Monday voted to replace the pedestrian bridge, which would cost the city about $2 million. Private donors have chipped in another $1.6 million, according to Otto M. Budig, Jr., who is board president of the Music Hall Revitalization Co.

• If you live in Hamilton County and lost your professional or driver’s license due to owing back child support, you can now work with the county to get those licenses back. County officials say they’re launching an amnesty program through the month of August. That program will require applicants to pay at least one month’s worth of child support as well as agree to wage garnishments to pay back overdue support. Hamilton County Job and Family Services spokesman Brian Gregg told the Enquirer that there are between 25,000 and 40,000 parents in the county who owe back child support payments.

• Norwood City Schools superintendent Rob Amodio yesterday abruptly resigned from his post in the midst of a state audit into the school’s finances. It’s unclear what exactly prompted Amodio’s resignation, but Fox 19 reports that sources close to the situation say it may have to do with the audit. The Norwood City School Board has appointed Kathy Sabo as acting director to replace Amodio.

• Want to know how much Ohio’s gubernatorial candidates are raising, and where their money is coming from? Check out this story, which shows the state’s four GOP candidates with big fundraising advantages early in the game over the four Democrat contenders. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci are the big money leaders thus far, with more than $4 million on hand each, but there’s a reason for that. Both have chipped in significant funds from their personal fortunes. Renacci has given his campaign a $4 million loan, while DeWine has transferred $1 million from his personal accounts to his campaign. Minus those loans, Renacci has raised about $575,000, while DeWine has raised about $1.2 million. Former State Rep. Connie Pillich, a Greater Cincinnati resident, leads Democrats in fundraising, raking in about $550,000.

• Speaking of DeWine, it looks as though he won't take part in a debate between Republican candidates in the party's gubernatorial primary. Check out this Columbus Dispatch story for more on why he's sitting out.

• Finally, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights division under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Session will have a new focus — going after affirmative action on college campuses. Yes, you read that right.

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