Morning News: Council, mayor fight over bus benches; Cincinnati Zoo back on Twitter; Trump won't say he'll accept defeat

No candidate in the history of the U.S. has declined to say they’ll accept the outcome of our country’s democratic process. The defiant refusal dovetails with Trump’s assertions that the election could be rigged if he doesn’t win.

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump at a March campaign rally in West Chester. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump at a March campaign rally in West Chester.

Good morning all. We will of course get to the final presidential debate between GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton in a moment. But before we delve into all the amazing discourse and respect for the truth and the constitution that took place last night, let’s talk about some local stuff, shall we?

Cincinnati City Council and Mayor John Cranley yesterday worked itself into a minor tizzy over a very complex subject: bus benches. I’ll keep this rundown brief, but suffice it to say the city will get new, public benches in the coming months. Basically, Councilman Chris Seelbach introduced a motion providing for benches purchased and placed by Metro, the city’s bus service, to replace privately-owned ones that are plastered with ads and often not compliant with city code. Council and Cranley alike say those benches represent a blight on many neighborhoods, and the city fought a six-year court battle with bench owners to be able to remove them. But some of those benches have been removed without replacements, leaving riders with no places to sit. Enter Seelbach’s ordinance. Cranley wanted to put the brakes on the move, however,  despite the fact it had support from five members of Council, expressing concerns about giving Metro the authority to place the benches and possibly raise revenue from ads on them. That, he said, could create an incentive for the bus operator to place far more benches than necessary around bus stops. There was a lot of back and forth around this, and a related motion that called for a moratorium on bench removal until replacements are available. In the end, Council passed both handily.

• Council was less contentious about a plan to restructure fees for community groups looking to put on recurring events. In the past, groups had to pay a $250 event fee to the city for each event they put on. That means if you ran, say, the Hyde Park Farmer’s Market, you had to pay $250 each Sunday you held the market. No more, however. Under the new rules, also proposed by Seelbach, community organizations pay the $250 fee just once and a smaller, $50 fee for each recurring event. Council passed the suggestion unanimously.

• Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil will hold a press conference this morning to discuss safety and security measures around the upcoming Ray Tensing trial. Former University of Cincinnati police officer Tensing shot and killed unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose during a routine traffic stop in Mount Auburn for a missing front license plate. The incident was captured on Tensing’s body camera, and he’s been fired from the UCPD and charged with murder and manslaughter for his actions. Tensing says he feared for his life and fired his gun in self-defense. The trial is expected to draw national attention and local protests.

• The Cincinnati Zoo is back on Twitter after taking a breather from the social media platform. The Zoo stopped tweeting in August after the online phenomenon around the death of Harambe, a silverback gorilla there. Zoo personnel in May shot and killed Harambe after a child fell into his cage. That set off an intense, sometimes strange maelstrom of outrage, memes, jokes and even hacker attacks. And sure enough, since the Zoo’s account has been back up, a new barrage of Harambe replies have come flooding in. Twitter is the worst, y’all.

• City officials today will unveil the new home for nine historic murals by artist Winold Reiss. Those murals were moved from a soon-to-be demolished wing of CVG International Airport, where they were placed in 1972 after leaving their original, 1930s-era home at Union Terminal. The murals will be displayed at the Duke Energy Convention Center, where a kick-off event is scheduled today at 11 a.m.

• A federal judge yesterday ordered Ohio to honor the votes of infrequent voters it purged from its registration rolls. Voters who were removed from the rolls by the state because they haven’t voted in the last six years and didn’t respond to a verification letter can now vote provisionally and have their status verified later, according to the order from U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith. Earlier this month, a federal court found that the methods undertaken by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted to purge voter registration records were illegal and ordered the state to fix the problem. Husted came up with his own fix, albeit a narrower one. Smith said that solution didn’t go far enough and would have still left some unlawfully purged voters without the opportunity to cast a ballot.

• OK, so, yeah. That debate last night. You probably saw it. Or heard about it. Or read tweets about it. Let’s just review the most surprising thing really quickly. The headline of the night, of course, is that GOP nominee Donald Trump said he would keep the nation in suspense as to whether he would accept losing the election. That’s a big deal. No candidate in the history of the U.S. has declined to say they’ll accept the outcome of our country’s democratic process. The defiant refusal dovetails with Trump’s assertions that the election could be rigged if he doesn’t win. Reviews of Trump’s debate performance have been fairly harsh — a bad sign for a candidate already greatly slipping in the polls just a couple weeks before the election. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had some of her own missteps — including unanswered questions about speeches she gave to Wall Street bankers advocating for more free-trade agreements and a false statement that her tax and economic plans wouldn’t increase the national deficit — but they were in a whole other universe compared to Trump’s big gaffes. You can read more about the debate here, or just follow me on Twitter for all the best jokes about Trump’s bad hombres, nasty women and more.

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