Morning News: Dennison drama to continue; no Big 12 for UC; Trump warns against voter fraud as Husted denies it's a problem

Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted assured voters that “the threat of widespread voter fraud is just not something that is happening in Ohio."

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted

Hey Cincy. Here’s your news today.

We’ll have to wait a little longer for a decision on the fate of the Dennison Hotel. Yesterday, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals heard an appeal from lawyers for Columbia, REI LLC, the company run by the influential Joseph family that owns and would like to demolish the historic Dennison. For four hours, attorneys Fran Barrett and Tim Burke cross-examined Cincinnati Urban Conservator Beth Johnson and others who testified before the Historic Conservation Board earlier this year about the building. Johnson’s office issued a report recommending the city not allow the building’s demolition, and the HCB voted against Columbia’s application to do so. Yesterday’s questions by Burke and Barrett, as well as preservationists’ attorney Sean Suder, delved into the minutia of the urban conservator’s role in the city as well as the expertise of various contractors and real estate experts called by Columbia. However, the ZBA yesterday didn’t come to a decision about whether to uphold or overturn that ruling, setting another hearing for Nov. 1 at 8:30 a.m. Should the ZBA uphold the previous denial for a demolition permit, Columbia has said it will take the case to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. We’ll keep you updated.

• It was all one big tease. The University of Cincinnati won’t be joining the Big 12 any time soon, it seems. In fact, no new schools will be hopping on board the high-level collegiate athletic conference, which currently has only 10 members for some reason. The Big 12’s board of directors say the move doesn’t have anything to do with individual schools and that it simply isn’t the right time to expand. The conference had been under contract with TV media partners Fox and ESPN that provided financial incentives for it to expand the number of member teams it has. But both networks have talked about buying out that contract clause, the Big 12 says, removing much of the financial reasoning behind taking on new teams. That means UC won’t get the chance to hop on a Power Five conference, or top-tier athletic groups that net much larger TV revenues, better shots and major bowl games and playoff berths. Oh well.

• Speaking of UC, here’s an alarming story: The school’s main campus was on lockdown yesterday after a gunshot there. Reports say a suspect fired at another person near Dabney Hall dorms and then fled across campus. Police issued a shelter in place order and surrounded the campus, but could not find the shooter. No one was injured during the incident and no suspect has been arrested. Police are interviewing the intended victim for leads about the shooter’s whereabouts.

• GOP vice presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence made an appearance in Mason yesterday, where hundreds showed up to hear him dodge and weave around statements made by running mate Donald Trump. After an introduction by U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, who represents a part of Cincinnati and its northern suburbs, Pence gave about a half-hour of remarks. He slammed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, of course, but also promised to defund Planned Parenthood and ban certain kinds of currently legal abortions. He also decried alleged media bias, saying he had to “turn the television on every morning with a stick.” It’s unclear what Pence meant by this. Is his TV dirty and he can’t dust it because he’s so busy fighting unfair rumors spread by an out of control press? Did some nefarious member of the media steal his remote control? In any event, there were some difficult questions Pence didn’t get to, including whether he supports Trump’s claim that voting might be rigged to favor Clinton. That kind of talk gets to the core of the legitimacy of our democracy, and Pence didn’t seem to have the Trumpian appetite for those big allegations. He also didn’t address direct revelations that Trump talked on tape about behaviors that amount to sexual assault in 2005. That tape, revealed more than a week ago, has caused big headaches for the campaign.

• Funny enough, at the same time Pence warned attendees at his rally yesterday to be vigilant against voter fraud, another Republican was pushing back against the idea that such fraud was a concern. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted assured voters here that “the threat of widespread voter fraud is just not something that is happening in Ohio,” a statement that came in apparent response to a tweet by Trump reading, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!” I think this exchange pretty much sums up the state of our political parties these days.

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