Morning News: Downtown Kroger on the way; OTR bar gets pushback for dresscode, social media responses; protests planned for Trump appearance

City officials and top brass from Kroger yesterday announced that the Cincinnati-based grocer will build a two-story, 45,000-square-foot store at the corner of Walnut Street and Central Parkway downtown.

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Good morning Cincy. I hope your Wednesday is off to a rad start and you don’t have a million things to do. I do have about that many things going on today so let’s just skip straight to the news, shall we?

President Donald Trump’s visit to Cincinnati is happening today. But his 1 p.m. appearance at Rivertowne Marina in the East End, just next door to the site of the Cameo Nightclub shootings, will be closed to the public.

According to news releases, multiple groups are planning to protest Trump’s appearance starting at 11 a.m. at Rakestraw Memorial Field Park, about a mile and a half from the Marina. Faith groups like the Amos Project, unions like AFSCME and SEIU, the Sierra Club, local groups like Communities United for Action and others will be in attendance to protest potential privatization of infrastructure, including the Brent Spence. Other organizations, including anti-Trump group Northern Kentucky Unites and the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, will also hold events protesting Trump’s policies. Following a series of speakers from 11 a.m. to noon, the groups will march from Rakestraw to the Marina ahead of Trump’s remarks.

You’ll need to be a member of the Marina to get in to hear Trump and other speakers talk about the president’s $1 trillion infrastructure proposal as it relates to revitalizing shipping infrastructure on the nation’s waterways. That probably won’t be the only message attendees will hear: Trump tweeted about his visit earlier this morning, promising to “meet with ObamaCare victims and talk healthcare.” No word if Trump will broach the subject of replacing the Brent Spence Bridge — long considered one of America’s most urgent infrastructure needs.

• As we reported yesterday, city officials and top brass from Kroger announced that the Cincinnati-based grocer will build a two-story, 45,000-square-foot store at the corner of Walnut Street and Central Parkway downtown. That’s a big deal — the last grocery store in downtown proper closed in 1969, and city leaders have been chasing a new one for decades. After the store opens in 2019, Kroger’s Over-the-Rhine location on Vine Street will close and be donated to 3CDC. You can read the details here.

• Two potential jurors in the Ray Tensing retrial were dismissed yesterday after defense lawyers revealed they had previously made social media posts against Tensing. The former University of Cincinnati police officer is being retried for the shooting death of unarmed black motorist Samuel DuBose in July 2015. One prospective juror, a white woman, shared a Change.org petition asking Ohio Gov. John Kasich to “ensure that Sam DuBose’s death is not in vain.” Another, also a white woman, shared a post by Black Lives Matter calling for justice for DuBose. Both were dismissed from the jury pool. The two were among the 17 jurors dismissed for cause — meaning they showed potential for bias — this week. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys will also get four peremptory challenges, or requests to dismiss a juror with no reason given. A final jury is expected to be seated by the end of the day today. 

• Yesterday we told you about Dayton and Lorain’s lawsuits against big drug companies and distributors those cities say are partly responsible for Ohio’s opioid addiction crisis. Now, the city of Cincinnati is looking at filing a similar lawsuit, according to Mayor John Cranley. The mayor says the city has been looking at a lawsuit against those companies for months, and that they’re almost ready to file it. Those lawsuits come after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the drug companies on behalf of the state. DeWine, as well as Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, are running for governor next year.

• A recently-opened Over-the-Rhine bar is getting big pushback on social media after enforcing a dress code barring oversized necklaces, baggy jeans, white t-shirts and other items that many say are racially-biased. Last week, visitors to Treehouse Bar on Sycamore who are black said they were turned away for looking “too urban” and not meeting the bar’s dress code. A few took to social media, setting off a firestorm of controversy for the bar.

“My friend and I were not granted access to your establishment basically because we were black,” Matthew Williams wrote in a review of the bar on Facebook. “The doorman said, ‘I can’t let you in with those chains on.’ I retorted, ‘but they’re fake.’ He replied, ‘it doesn’t matter. Your look is too urban.’

“I could respect it if we were simply told there was a dresscode… but the way your establishment works, like many others in gentrified OTR or Northside, you make it hard for people of color to want to come to your establishments.”

More than 100 people took to Treehouse’s Facebook page to criticize the bar for the move. That in turn led to some choice comments from the bar’s staff, including one calling a female commenter “sweetie” and using condescending language. Many of those comments were later deleted.

On June 5, the bar announced that it had fired the employee who had made the “inflammatory and disrespectful comments” in a news release. In that release, the bar said it did nothing racist in barring some visitors’ entry and that it was a simple matter of dress code, not race. “Everyone is welcome here at Treehouse Bar,” the release says. The bar yesterday shared a post written by former Mixx Ultra Lounge owner Julian Rodgers that exhorts commenters to “quit being sheep & go see it for yourself.”

• How are renovations going on Music Hall? Well, just fine, it seems. The $135 million rehab effort is ahead of schedule, and the Cincinnati landmark should be ready to reopen in October as planned. You can read more about the renovation efforts here.

• Let’s move on to state news. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will pull out of insurance markets created by the Affordable Care Act in Ohio, leaving 18 counties without an insurer in those exchanges. Anthem says that “planning and pricing for ACA-compliant health plans has become increasingly difficult due to the shrinking individual market as well as continual changes in federal operations, rules and guidance.”

Those "continual changes" refer to GOP proposals to repeal and replace the ACA, as including moves to strip funding for subsidies for plans purchased by low and moderate-income consumers in the exchanges. Republican elected leaders pointed to Anthem’s withdrawal as a sign that the ACA is falling apart, while Democrats blame uncertainty cited by insurers brought about by the GOP’s attempts to repeal the ACA. Anthem insures about 67,000 people in Ohio under the ACA. Those with Anthem plans through Medicare, Medicaid or employers won’t be affected. It’s not just Anthem — the number of insurers offering healthcare in Ohio through the federal exchange dropped from 17 to 11 this year.

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