Morning News: City fees too much for communities?; Model doubles down around Findlay Market; Trump stumps in Cincy

Development around Over-the-Rhine’s Findlay Market has been accelerating over the past couple years, and it looks like the pace will pick up yet again.

Jul 5, 2016 at 10:56 am

Hello all. Hope your July 4 weekend was as grand as mine was. Here’s your news today.

I had a great time at this year’s Northside Fourth of July carnival, as I do every year. But organizing that festival, and others like it, has become more of a headache, community leaders say, due to increased fees from the city . New special event fees of $250-$500 make mounting big community events more expensive, organizers in Northside, South Cumminsville and other neighborhoods say, making it hard for some of them to operate the community-building events. In addition to the special permit fees, which Cincinnati City Council has suspended for six months following controversy around them, Northside Community Council also paid $1,500 more this year for rental of the city’s Jacob Hoffner Park, another big bill organizers say stands in the way of the events. Cincinnati Parks officials say they’re looking into the rental fees but note that the carnival extended extra days this year.

• Development around Over-the-Rhine’s Findlay Market has been accelerating over the past couple years, and it looks like the pace will pick up yet again. Developer Model Group, which already has a $20 million mixed-use development underway in the area east of the market, recently indicated it is preparing a second phase for the project, doubling its investment in the area. Market Square II will involve construction of one new building and redevelopment of 10 historic buildings, this time on the market’s west side. Model scored $1.8 million in state historic tax credits last month for the project.

• In the wake of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, should the United States un-U.N. itself? Northern Kentucky’s U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie thinks so. Massie, a tea party Republican, is again pushing a bill he co-sponsored last year that would end America’s membership in the United Nations. Massie says the U.S. should take care of itself before worrying about other countries and that being a member of the U.N. means that the U.S. Constitution isn’t the highest law in the land. The stance has been a popular one among staunch conservatives and libertarians like former Texas Rep. Ron Paul. Massie has said he plans to fight for the issue as Congress undergoes its annual budget process, which will certainly not make things any more of a mess than they already are in that area. Not at all.

• Ohio’s U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman agree on at least one thing — a bill that would help protect retirement benefits for Ohio’s coal miners, many of whom face dire economic conditions. Right now, a private but government-guaranteed fund that pays the benefits is facing insolvency, but legislation could shore it up. That effort is a rare point of agreement for Brown, a liberal Democrat, and Portman, a conservative Republican. But nothing in Congress is ever as easy as simply agreeing on something. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, blocked a larger package of legislation containing the so-called Miner’s Protection Act back in December, and has yet to bring the bill back up for consideration. Brown claims that’s because McConnell doesn’t like United Coal Workers Union, which backed his 2014 Senate opponent. The majority leader’s office says McConnell just wants the bill to go through “regular order” in the Senate, but did not comment on whether the senator supports the measure.

• Finally, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump will be in the Greater Cincinnati area tomorrow for a rally and fundraiser. Trump will pop in to the Queen City for a $2,700 round-table discussion fundraiser during the day —  though many local Republicans won’t be attending the event, and it’s unclear where or when exactly it will be held — and then The Donald will make a quick trip up to Sharonville for a rally. The visit comes as Trump’s campaign has started to trail in Ohio, a vital swing state in the general election. Though past polls had Trump and presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton neck and neck, more recent surveys have Clinton edging ahead. Clinton also has a much better ground game in the state right now, while Trump is just beginning to place staff and other resources in Ohio. Clinton made an appearance with progressive Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Cincinnati last week, drawing thousands to Union Terminal.