Morning News: Council members propose resolution asking Deters for Tensing retrial; Mortar raising funds for microloans; Ohio troopers return from Standing Rock

State troopers were sent to support law enforcement efforts responding to peaceful protests organized by indigenous groups, environmentalists and others against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Local activists and indigenous groups are also at Standing Rock.

click to enlarge Local activist Jheri Neri speaks at a rally at Cincinnati City Hall against the Dakota Access Pipeline. - NICK SWARTSELL
Nick Swartsell
Local activist Jheri Neri speaks at a rally at Cincinnati City Hall against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Good morning Cincinnati! Let’s talk news.

Council members Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young have announced a resolution that would urge Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters to retry former University of Cincinnati Police officer Ray Tensing in the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose last year in Mount Auburn. On Saturday, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Shanahan announced the jury in Tensing’s trial could not reach a verdict. Simpson attended a rally and subsequent march, where she called for calm, peaceful protesting but also asked Deters to seek a retrial.

Simpson and Young’s resolution notes that a “strong majority” of the jury (eight members) wanted a conviction on manslaughter charges and asserts that “justice must be served regardless of the background and ethnicity of the perpetrators and victims.”

• The city of Cincinnati has a new temporary director of economic inclusion as Thomas Corey, the first person to hold the post created last year, departs for medical reasons. Former assistant to the city manager Markiea Carter will fill Corey’s shoes, at least for now, as the latter recovers from necessary surgery and then enters retirement. The inclusion director is charged with helping to increase contracting opportunities with the city for minority-owned businesses, an initiative City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley launched last year.

• Speaking of minority inclusion and business opportunities, entrepreneurship hub Mortar is raising money to boost underserved business owners in Cincinnati. A campaign to solicit donations ranging between $100 and $1,000 each from 100 funders, called the Iron Chest Fund, kicked off yesterday. Matt Butler, CEO of Signature Hardware, is supporting the effort with a $50,000 matching grant. The fund will issue interest-free microloans to small businesses who are underserved by usual banking services and who might have a hard time accessing capital to start a business. Since launching yesterday, the effort has already raised $2,500.

• As local banking giant Fifth Third faces pressure from federal regulators about its compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act, the bank will pour more than $2.5 billion more in loans into low-income communities. Fifth Third is expected to announce the new efforts Friday. In July, the Federal Reserve called out significant violations to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Act and the Fair Housing Act Fifth Third made between 2011 and 2013. The Reserve gave the bank a “needs improvement” rating — the second-lowest of four possible ratings. The 10 percent increase in investment in low-income communities is expected to happen over the next five years.

• Cincinnati is the third-most affordable city for homebuyers, according to this new ranking by mortgage information website HSH.com. Residents here need to make about $36,000 a year to afford a median-priced home, according to the site. Only Pittsburgh, where you need $31,000, and Cleveland, where you need $34,000, were cheaper. The least affordable cities were probably ones you can figure out on your own. But heck, I’ll spoil it for you. They were San Francisco, where you need to make $162,000 a year to buy a median-priced home, and San Diego, where you need to make about $110,000 a year. Sunlight is expensive, y’all.

• New, more difficult standardized testing means tougher graduation requirements for Ohio students, and that has many school administrators and teachers on edge. A group of school superintendents, teachers, school board members and parents gathered in Columbus yesterday to protest the new standards, saying it could put as many as one-third of students in some schools at risk of failing to graduate. The new standards are slated to begin with the class of 2018, but some state board of education members are weighing changes to the standards. Students previously had to pass the Ohio Graduation Tests in order to get a diploma. But in the future they’ll be required to pass seven much tougher tests to accumulate points toward graduating. Many educators say the tougher tests aren’t fair and could limit opportunities for lower-performing students.

• Despite the protests of Northern Kentucky’s U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, his fellow Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan yesterday was reelected to the most powerful perch in the House. Massie cited concerns about possible budget-busting moves by the incoming Trump administration and Ryan’s likelihood of going along with those moves as his reason for his opposition to Ryan, the Wisconsin lawmaker who replaced West Chester’s John Boehner in the influential spot. Ryan got a lot of support from other Cincinnati-area representatives and faced no opposition in his bid.

• Finally, the 37 Ohio State Highway Patrol officers Gov. John Kasich sent to Standing Rock,. North Dakota are headed home. The troopers were sent to support law enforcement efforts responding to peaceful protests organized by indigenous groups, environmentalists and others against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Local activists and indigenous groups are also at Standing Rock protesting the DAPL. The pipeline passes near land occupied by the Standing Rock Sioux, who are concerned about sacred sites on the land and the possibility that a crude oil leak from the pipeline, which is set to run under the Missouri River, could pollute their water supply. The actions of law enforcement and private security against protesters has been controversial. Besides "support," it's unclear what exactly the Ohio State Troopers' role was at Standing Rock. State agencies have yet to reveal further details about their activities there. The pipeline is on hold after the federal Army Corps of Engineers Sunday announced it would seek more input from Native American groups before proceeding.

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