Good morning all. Let’s talk news. I’m a little groggy from checking out a great show at The Comet last night, but there’s some big stuff happening here in Cincy, so I’m going to soldier through. You should, too.
Today’s the day. Both Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary (and former P&G CEO) Bob McDonald are speaking at the American Legion Convention here in Cincinnati. McDonald’s speech, which he is giving as I type, details reform efforts to the VA system, which has been rocked by accusations of mismanagement and poor performance. McDonald has pledged to cut wait times and improve care for the tens of thousands of veterans the system serves.
• Clinton will speak at 12:30 at the convention and is expected to talk about her plans to keep America at the forefront of the world diplomatically and militarily while making the case that her opponent Donald Trump will do the opposite, putting the country in danger of losing its “exceptional” status. You can bet she’ll be highlighting her time as secretary of state as she makes her pitch to the thousands of veterans in town for the convention. Trump, who has made a last-minute trip to Mexico to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto, will address the convention’s closing day tomorrow.
• It’s signed, sealed and delivered: City of Cincinnati officials have reached an agreement with the union representing Cincinnati Police Department employees, heading off potential political headaches. The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #69 announced today it has accepted a 4 percent wage increase each of the next three years. That’s more than initially offered by the city, but it’s less than the 5-5-4 plan proposed by Mayor John Cranley outside the city’s formal collective bargaining practice, which is run by the city manager. The FOP’s vote to take the deal means political battles over Cranley’s proposal look less likely. Several members of City Council, as well as City Manager Harry Black, questioned the legality and the propriety of Cranley’s move. Council was set to vote on the proposal next month, but now the issue could be moot — maybe. In a statement today, Cranley pledged to “continue working to ensure that Fire, AFSCME, CODE and Building Trades receive equitable wage increases.” Many of those unions have already negotiated and come to agreements with the city.
• The city of Cincinnati yesterday unveiled the new branding for the streetcar, which is now officially known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector. It’s also seafoamish green now, which is pleasing to my aesthetic sensibilities. It’s also emblazoned with Cincinnati Bell logos, which are less interesting to me but are, ya know, paying the bills and all. Anyway, the Connector kicks off service Sept. 9 with a weekend of free rides for everyone, which is pretty cool. In the meantime, there’s a lot you need to know to prepare for this momentous occasion, and this week’s CityBeat has all the good stuff. Read up.
• Ever wonder what West Chester township retiree (and, oh yeah, former ultra-powerful U.S. House Speaker) John Boehner is up to these days? Hint: It involves an RV, a pink polo shirt and making brief, artsy video tributes to the freedom of the open road. The Jack Kerouac of the GOP yesterday dropped a six-second clip on YouTube of him cruising down that road in a very austere, even abstract, way. No narration. No closed captioning. No words at all, actually — just the sounds of driving and a dramatic camera pan as Boehner pilots the 45-foot bus “Freedom One” into the horizon along some part of what the video’s description calls America’s “asphalt prairie.” It’s all very poetic. But before you think Boehner is on some Don Draper- (or David Bell)-esque journey of self-discovery, you should hit up the official statement (not very poetic) on his website, wherein he reveals he’s just going across the country working to help 20 or so GOP House members as they run for reelection. Once a politician, always a politician, I guess. But maybe a person can do that and peer endlessly into the abyss of a roaming, totally free existence, eh?
• Finally, yikes. A new study on economic segregation in America’s public schools found Ohio has the most divided in the country. Of the top 50 borders between school districts with the highest disparities, Ohio had the most of any one state — nine in all. None were in Southwest Ohio, but the biggest divide in the state was in nearby Dayton. Divisions between haves and have-nots in public schools are highly concentrated in just 14 states, according to the report, many of them former manufacturing hubs or so-called “rust belt” areas like Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. Depressing. You can read the full report, which has much more detail, here.