Morning News: Luken: Banks group should meet or quit; is Covington a hipster haven?; Trump budget could mean big cuts to area anti-drug efforts

Trump’s proposed cuts have concerned law enforcement officials and even GOP lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Rob Portman.

click to enlarge President Donald Trump - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
President Donald Trump

Good morning Cincy! Let’s talk about what’s happening around town, shall we?

Is Cincinnati paying for advice on parking it doesn’t use? The city has paid Conduent, a New Jersey company, $1.2 million since 2014 to run its parking meters, operate enforcement activities and suggest pricing in various neighborhoods based on parking spot vacancy data. Other cities make good use of that information to institute what is called dynamic pricing — but Cincinnati more or less disregards it. Dynamic pricing allows a city to adjust the cost of meters based on demand data, incentivizing more parking during slow periods and maximizing money collected when things are busy. That hasn’t happened in Cincinnati. Data shows that the city’s parking system was only about 37 percent full during a recent week and that on Sunday that week it was only 15 percent full. Eighty-five percent occupancy of parking spots is considered ideal in the industry. The city says it hasn’t instituted more flexible dynamic pricing because it doesn’t have the equipment in place to do so. Even though the city doesn’t adjust rates based on demand, parking rates look to go up soon. City Manager Harry Black has suggested a boost in meter rates to help plug a $26 million budget shortfall.

• Former Cincinnati mayor Charlie Luken says the group that has overseen riverfront development The Banks either needs to start meeting or call it quits. Luken, who is a member of the Joint Banks Steering Committee, says that the fact the group hasn’t met in two years means he doesn’t “have a clue as to what progress or lack of progress is being made.” But Tom Gabelman, Hamilton County’s legal counsel who sits on the committee, says that’s because the city and the county have been busy hammering away at complex deals that will represent the next phase of the riverfront development.

• Following continuing complaints from Cincinnati Police Department leadership around the performance of the department’s new radios, representatives from manufacturer Motorola are in town this week to work on a fix for the problems. The company is reprogramming the devices, switching out microphones and antennas and training officers, says Police Chief Eliot Isaac. Officers have reported that the radios often become inaudible during high-noise situations, including during several critical moments.

• A while back, someone told me that Covington is Cincinnati’s Brooklyn. Set aside the fact that the Cov is in another state for a minute and consider that the folks at lifestyle site Thrillist seem to agree with my friend’s assessment, at least sort of, calling Covington “a hipster enclave.” Now, Thrillist did so while putting Covington on a very un-Brooklyn list called “Best Small Towns to Visit in All 50 States,” even though the city has 40,000 people in it and is right across the river from Cincy. But the website also highlighted many reasons the comparison holds true: a great nightlife, restaurant and arts scene and interesting historic architecture. Anyway, you can check out the list here.

• President Donald Trump recently released his 2018 federal budget proposal, and it could mean big cuts for anti-heroin efforts in Greater Cincinnati. Trump’s floating cuts to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for example, eliminating 95 percent of the funding for programs like those aiding law enforcement efforts in so-federally-designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas like Hamilton and Warren counties. That has local law enforcement officials and even GOP lawmakers like U.S. Sen. Rob Portman highly concerned. Portman, who represents Ohio, has railed against the proposed cuts, asking his colleagues in the Senate to oppose them as well.

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