Morning News: Jeffy Ruby offers reward for Withrow vandalism info; Ohio troopers at Standing Rock "undercover" in uniform; West Chester official rebuked for Facebook post

A video shows Ohio Highway Patrol officers in uniform and riot gear on the front lines of the action in Standing Rock, sometimes even shooting non-lethal weapons at protesters.

click to enlarge The Brent Spence Bridge
The Brent Spence Bridge

Hello Cincy. Let’s talk news for a minute, shall we?

A vandal or vandals spray-painted racist graffiti on Withrow High School, it was caught on video and someone out there knows who did it. Local restaurant magnate Jeff Ruby is betting that that potential informant likes steak and football and is willing to tell all for some time in his Bengals suite for a game and free dinner for two. Ruby tweeted out his offer yesterday, saying the incident “disgraced our city.” The incident has captured the city’s attention. Hundreds gathered at Withrow Monday, the day after the incident, to comfort students and to stand against the hate crime. Swastikas, racial slurs and the names “Trump” and “J. Cranley” were scrawled on the school.

• A quickly developing section of Walnut Hills is about to see dozens of apartments for single parents attending college or other higher education. Model Group, Cincinnati Union Bethel and Christ Church Cathedral are teaming up to turn a vacant building near Peeble’s Corner on McMillan Street, most recently a Dollar Store, into housing for the parent-scholars. It’s modeled after a similar project, the Northern Kentucky Scholar House, in Covington.

• What will Hamilton County’s two newest state representatives be up to at the State House as this legislative session moves forward? A bill designed to fight violence against women is on Rep. Catherine Ingram’s list, while Rep. Brigid Kelly is looking to boost family leave to help working parents. Ingram also says education reform is also high on her agenda — look for her to support public schools over the state’s charter program — while Kelly is also focused on transparency at the state House and informing voters about upcoming legislation. The two Cincinnati-area reps are both Democrats in a sea of Republicans, however, so expect a lot of talk about bipartisanship as they work to get their legislation through.

 • Assuming that a massive push to rebuild the country’s infrastructure will actually happen under President Donald Trump, how likely is our region to see some of that activity? Well, seems like Trump's team has at least one huge local project they'd tackle. Documents from the Trump camp suggest that replacing the Brent Spence Bridge, a $2.6 billion project, is number two on the list of the country’s top 52 infrastructure priorities. The bridge carries I-75 across the Ohio River and is functionally obsolete, with far more traffic than it was designed for crossing it every day. One problem with the bridge’s presence on the $137.5 billion list: Trump’s plan calls for big private investment into the infrastructure projects. For bridges, that usually means tolls, but Kentucky has banned tolls on the Brent Spence after local push back against an earlier public-private concept.

• The state of Ohio has insisted that the 37 state troopers it sent to Standing Rock, North Dakota to confront protesters against the North Dakota Access Pipeline there were "undercover." The state has declined to release more details about that deployment, which North Dakota will pay for, but video shows the Highway Patrol officers in uniform and riot gear on the front lines of the action, sometimes even shooting non-lethal weapons at protesters. That's kind of a weird way to be undercover. More here. You can also find background on the situation at our story here.

• Finally, yesterday we told you about a man unafraid to stand up for his beliefs against the unrelenting tide of oppression that faces male officeholders in staunchly feminist and liberal West Chester Township. Err… wait, no, actually we just told you about the suburban Butler County township’s fiscal officer, Bruce Jones, who shot his mouth off over Facebook and unkindly suggested (sometimes in all caps) that  women had mental illnesses for having a difference of opinion on last weekend’s women’s march. (You can probably guess where Jones stands on the Women’s March.) Well, that little act of heroism has gotten Jones in some hot water. In addition to being fiscal officer for the township, he’s also a realtor with Coldwell Banker West Shell. Or, at least, he was. It seems the real estate agency has “disassociated” itself from Jones, implying that his statements were “hate speech” in a tweet sent yesterday. Will the censorship never end? (That’s a joke. If I may editorialize, this guy is a privileged jerk.)

I’m out. Send all outraged missives to me via Twitter, but check with your employer first and don’t forget to hit that caps lock key.

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