Morning News: Council passes raises, now what?; Streetcar launches; Trump woos the ladies

It’s been a long, strange ride, but here we are. The official launch of the Cincinnati streetcar… err, sorry, Cincinnati Bell Connector… is today.

Good morning all. It’s Friday. But it’s also grey and rainy, so really it’s like the equivalent of a sunny Wednesday. Eh, I’ll take it. Let’s talk news while we wait for it to dry up, shall we?

It’s been a long, strange ride, but here we are. The official launch of the Cincinnati streetcar… err, sorry, Cincinnati Bell Connector… is today. There will be a ceremonial launch at 10 a.m. starting at Washington Park, where Mayor John Cranley, members of Cincinnati City Council, former Mayor Mark Mallory, early streetcar project booster John Schneider, representatives from sponsor Cincinnati Bell and the Haile Foundation, which chipped in money for the project’s operating costs, will all take a first ride. Also present: the mayors of Portland, Ore. and Kansas City, which kind of doesn’t make sense because their cities already have streetcars they can ride any time they want. Just kidding. Welcome, guys. I’ll be on board as well in Car Five, which is the press car, which, actually, come to think of it, is probably the one the city just announced is out of commission awaiting testing for some repairs. Hm. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere. Anyway, after all the official hullabaloo, the cars will be open for riders at noon. They’re free all weekend, even for the haters.

• Cincinnati City Council yesterday passed an ordinance giving the city’s unionized employees four percent raises each year for the next three years plus a 1-percent bonus this year. That’s the latest, but perhaps not final, chapter in the saga of Mayor John Cranley’s pay raise proposal, which sought to give unionized city employees wage bumps and which put many Democrats on Council over a political barrel — pass the proposal and circumvent the city’s collective bargaining procedures, or risk upsetting the city’s unions, some of which had already bargained with the city before the ordinance. However, even as Council passed the pay raise 7-2 (Vice Mayor David Mann and Councilwoman Amy Murray voted no), City Manager Harry Black was warning that nothing is set in stone about the raises and that he’ll still be doing some negotiating with the unions over their contracts. So, there’s that. Black, who Cranley picked for the post and who usually sides with the mayor, has been a vocal opponent of Cranley’s pay raise move.

• Let’s continue to hang out in Council chambers for a minute because it’s interesting there. There will officially be three open seats in next year’s City Council elections. Councilman Kevin Flynn announced Wednesday that he won’t be seeking re-election after his first term is up. Flynn, a Charterite, has proven hard to predict politically during his tenure, even as he spent a lot of time on the important minutia of city government and the city charter. His vote was decisive in un-pausing the streetcar (see above), going against his sometime-ally Cranley, but he has also opposed his Democrat colleagues on Council a number of times. It’s almost as if he does things for some other reason than political expedience. If I had opinions (which I don’t because reporters relegate them to the same deep, remote place they stuff their emotions and moral values), some of Flynn’s policy priorities would surely have conflicted with them. But if I had emotions (see above), I’d be a little sad to see someone so independent leave city government.

• Republican women are hanging out today with female members of Donald Trump’s campaign downtown at the Hilton as the The Donald’s presidential ground game attempts to woo ladies across Ohio. It’s the first stop on the three-day Women for Trump tour, in which daughter-in-law Lara Trump and others, including reality TV stars and minor celebrities, stump for Trump among members of the fairer sex. The Donald is not doing well among that particular demographic in the polls, and the effort a mere two months before election day is an effort to change that. So, ladies, what do you think?

• Finally, some students at Northern Kentucky University are up in arms over a flyer welcoming white students back to campus. That flyer was a response to another one put up by the school’s African American Programs and Services group advertising “Welcome Black Week,” which celebrated students of color during the first week of classes. Shortly after those posters went up, very similar ones reading “Welcome White Week” also appeared. NKU says those fliers and any event they advertised were not sanctioned by the university. A group of about 50 students protested the posters, and many have been taken down.

I'm out. Catch me tweeting dumb jokes about the streetcar here in a bit.

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