Morning News: confederate flag shirt thrown out, new defense witness allowed in Tensing trial; Cranley releases budget proposal; Blue Ash bans medical marijuana

Cranley preserved the city manager’s 25 cent an hour parking meter rate increase expected to raise $600,000, but ditched Black’s proposed parking ticket fee increase from $45 to $60. Overall, Cranley moved around $6 million in Black's budget.

click to enlarge Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black

Good morning Cincy. It’s Friday. It’s finally not raining. Before you go bask in the sunshine and enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend, though, let’s get serious and talk some news.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz today ruled that the T-shirt former UCPD officer Ray Tensing was wearing when he shot unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose — which prominently features a confederate flag — will not be allowed as evidence in the case. Tensing’s attorney Stew Mathews argues that T-shirt should be barred from evidence as irrelevant.

Ghiz also ruled that defense witness Scott Roder, who did a forensic animation recreating DuBose’s shooting, should be allowed to testify as an expert video analyst in the trial, but that his animations would not be allowed as evidence. Prosecution video expert Grant Frederick will also be able to testify again in the retrial.

• That retrial kicked off yesterday with jury selection at the Hamilton County courthouse. The jury pool in the second attempt to try Tensing, who is white, for the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose wasn’t exactly diverse — the first group of 60 jurors considered included 30 white women, 24 white men and just two black men and four black women. Another later group of 63 had just 13 people of color. Reporters were locked out of the courtroom by mistake for other portions of the jury selection process. By the end of the day, the pool was cut from 243 to 180 potential jurors who will complete a 25-page questionnaire so that the final 12 jurors can be chosen. The jury in the last Tensing trial consisted of six white women, four white men and two black women. Racial justice advocates say that the courts need to try new means of gathering a diverse jury pool. Ohio uses only registered voters in its pools, while most states pull jurors from multiple sources. Kentucky pulls jurors from three sources — voter registration, income tax records and residents who hold driver’s licenses.

Mayor John Cranley yesterday announced his revisions to City Manager Harry Black’s $1.1 billion FY 2018-19 budget proposal. In order to address a $26 million deficit, Black chopped 25 percent off the top of most external organizations receiving city money, including human services organizations funded through a vetting process administered by United Way.

The mayor reversed Black’s cuts for those programs as well as many neighborhood and economic development groups and also added other measures, including $400,000 to help residents caught up in code compliance struggles and bumping funding for the Wasson Way bike trail up to $500,000.

In the past, human services funding has been a political flashpoint, especially between the mayor and Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who is challenging Cranley in this year’s election. Simpson discussed some of her own ideas about the budget yesterday as well in a series of posts on social media. The mayor announced his proposal yesterday at a news conference at the Villages at Roll Hill, one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods that will see a $750,000 matching grant to build a Boys and Girls Club facility there.

Cranley’s proposals pay for the funding increases with a hiring freeze on some currently vacant city positions, saving nearly $600,000, by moving more than $2.4 million around in various city funds and by reducing various programs, including information technology and retail development programs together worth about $2 million.

Cranley preserved the city manager’s 25 cent an hour parking meter rate increase expected to raise $600,000, but ditched Black’s proposed parking ticket fee increase from $45 to $60. That increase would raise about $900,000. Overall, Cranley moved around about $6 million in Black’s budget proposal.

• Blue Ash City Council yesterday voted 5-2 to officially bar medical marijuana. That measure bars the cultivation, processing or retail sale of the drug within city limits and comes after a similar measure drafted by Blue Ash Mayor Lee Czerwonka failed to pass Council earlier this month. Other municipalities, including Evendale, Springdale, Fairfield, Indian Hill, Maderia, Montgomery, Mariemont and Sharonville, have passed similar bans.

• Let’s switch over to statewide news and check in on the governor’s race, shall we? Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who jumped into the race recently, is currently using her mayoral campaign fund to pay for gubernatorial campaign expenses. That fund doesn’t have the same contribution limits associated with a statewide campaign for governor. Whaley’s website briefly contained a message advising donors that the fund was able to take unlimited contributions, but that message was taken down yesterday after the Associated Press asked questions about it. Whaley’s campaign has since said it will voluntarily abide by statewide campaign limits — $12,000 a year for individuals and PACs — until the fund is converted into a statewide campaign account. Currently, Whaley must use the mayoral account until Dayton’s mayoral election wraps up in November. Afterward, Whaley must transition to a statewide fund by February.

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