Morning News: Cincy's sanctuary city status official; city settled with family accusing CPD detective of wrongfully jailing children; Chabot's tough week

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican who represents Cincinnati’s West Side and northern suburbs, is having something of a rough week. Let’s tick through the last 48 hours, shall we?

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click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot's having a no good, very bad week
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot's having a no good, very bad week

Good morning all. Here’s some news for you today.

After two hours of public testimony for and against an ordinance by Cincinnati City Councilman Wendell Young officially making Cincinnati a sanctuary city, Council yesterday voted 6-2 to go ahead with that measure. That lead to boos and calls of “traitors” from those in attendance opposed to the measure, which seeks to ensure that local law enforcement officials don’t spend their time on immigration enforcement. Council members Charlie Winburn and Amy Murray voted against the resolution but said they would support it if it were tweaked to indicate it only applies to documented immigrants. Proponents of the move say it will make it easier for Cincinnati Police and other city offices to serve everyone and solicit tips on crimes without residents having to worry about being arrested solely for their immigration status. Detractors say it puts the city at risk of losing millions of dollars from the federal government. President Donald Trump has threatened to cut federal funding for the 200 or so sanctuary municipalities across the country.

“The fact that we’re willing to encourage the people of Cincinnati to be welcoming to everyone,” Young said, “is not something people need to fear.”

Well. This is… unsettling to say the least. A Cincinnati Police detective knowingly jailed two innocent children and used the situation to coerce sex from their mother, according to a court case. Documents recently uncovered by The Cincinnati Enquirer show that the city of Cincinnati settled a lawsuit with a family for $130,000 in 2015 after Julian Steele, then a Cincinnati Police detective, was convicted of intimidation and abduction. Steele arrested two children in 2009 in connection with a burglary investigation. The documents show Steele knew the children had nothing to do with that crime, but leveraged their captivity to coerce their mother into giving him oral sex. Steele says the sex was consensual. The case came tumbling down when Steele sought and failed to get a conviction for the children, and a jury later found him guilty of falsely imprisoning the children. The same jury  acquitted him on the sex charges, however. City officials have not commented on the suit. CPD fired Steele, who is currently serving four years in state prison. Another CPD detective, Calvin Mathis, was also named in the suit because he allegedly helped Steele with the burglary investigation and knew the children were innocent.

Is one of Cincinnati’s major companies for sale? The New York Post reports that Macy’s is looking for a buyer after flat sales and continued losses. The department store chain has announced 68 store closings and other measures to increase its profitability, but according to the report, investors are getting impatient and the company has started courting possible buyers. That could have local implications — Macy’s employs roughly 4,000 people in the region.

U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, a Republican who represents Cincinnati’s West Side and northern suburbs, is having something of a rough week. Let’s tick through the last 48 hours, shall we?

First, Chabot yesterday got called out for posting a meme from an anti-Semitic website on one of his blog posts. The congressman says that the “mainstream media” hates Donald Trump and treats him unfairly. To prove it, he used a meme from a website that… hates Jewish people. That seems dumb. Chabot included a photo and a quote from alt-right icon and Trump chief advisor Steve Bannon bashing the media. The problem, besides the weak rhetorical utility of such a meme, is that it included the three-parenthesis “echo” used by neo-Nazis to indicate a subject — in this case, “(((media)))” — is Jewish, and it came from a website rife with anti-Jewish sentiments such as this one: “The only way to Make America Great Again is to remove the JEWS from power over banking, media and government." I won’t link to that website because we have a pretty solid “no clicks for Nazis” policy at CityBeat, but you can check out more about the story here. Chabot says he Googled to find the meme, was unaware of its anti-Semitic provenance and has since removed it. Local Jewish groups have called the meme a mistake but also highlight Chabot’s history of working with the Jewish community.

Chabot’s long day wasn’t over. Just a bit later, he got a couple dozen guests to his local office, all of them unhappy about an entirely different subject: the congressman’s pledge to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. The group included cancer survivors, concerned parents and others from the Warren County portion of Chabot’s district who don’t want to see the ACA eliminated. Chabot wasn’t at his office at the time, though an aide took notes.

In what must feel a little like Groundhog Day for our heroic congressman, Chabot’s long stretch is still moving along. The Cincinnati chapter of progressive organizing group Indivisible has set up a protest called “Where is Steve Day.” The group will gather on Fountain Square at 11:30 a.m. for a brief, tongue-in-cheek proclamation about the day before heading to Chabot’s downtown office in Carew Tower to present the proclamation and encourage the congressman to hold more open hours and town halls for all of his constituents and to be more responsive to emails and phone calls from constituents. Attendees at the rally will also visit the offices of U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.

“Representative Chabot has made a particular point of avoiding truly open town halls, unscreened questions and open debate, even as he ducks policy questions and hurls insults at literally thousands of the good people in his district,” a news release from the group says. “Many of us find it impossible to get an email or phone call returned, or to participate in technically clunky ‘tele town halls,' where Steve Chabot decides who participates and what gets asked.”

• Finally, some state news. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are unhappy with drug addiction funding in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s new budget. That plan keeps addiction funding flat in the face of an increasing opiate epidemic, Republican and Democratic critics in the State House say. Kasich, however, says Ohio is still doing more than any other state and points out that he hasn’t cut any money from the $1 billion the state had dedicated to fight addiction. Lawmakers say the addiction crisis is the state’s biggest problem and that more money should be spent on addiction treatment options to keep addicts from relapsing and overdosing.

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