Morning News: Streetcar exec Deatrick on the way out; Kentucky Gov. Bevin under investigation; the Trumps are coming

Now that the streetcar is up and running, project executive John Deatrick has only a few finishing touches and loose ends to tie up. His last day will be December 31.

click to enlarge Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally in West Chester. - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a rally in West Chester.

Good morning all. Let’s talk news.

Lots of City Hall stuff today. First, the city’s streetcar executive was given his walking papers Tuesday via a letter from City Manager Harry Black — but that was in the cards from the beginning for the temporary gig. John Deatrick, who previously oversaw the city’s engineering work on Fort Washington Way and The Banks, was hired in 2013 by former City Manager Milton Dohoney to take the reins on establishing the controversial streetcar. Deatrick has delivered on time and under budget — no mean feat given the engineering and political complexity of the project. Now that the work is finished and the streetcar is up and running, Deatrick has only a few finishing touches and loose ends to tie up. His last day will be December 31. Deatrick has expressed willingness to work on other city projects, something the administration would be wise to look into.

• Cincinnati City Council yesterday rejected a resolution changing Columbus Day (Oct. 10 this year) to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The vote was rather unusual — council members Wendell Young, Yvette Simpson, P.G. Sittenfeld and Chris Seelbach voted for the resolution, while the other five council members abstained, most without comment. You can read more about the proposal here.

• Council did pass another resolution, declaring support for tighter restrictions on the payday lending industry. Local nonprofit Communities United for Action helped push for that resolution, which states that the city supports the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to pass new rules that would require payday and car title lenders to consider customers’ abilities to repay loans before hitting them with high interest rates and fees. Council members Christopher Smitherman, Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn abstained from voting on the measure.

Roy Davis of CUFA testified that he once had to take out a payday loan to fix the transmission in his car and that the resultant interest rates and fees were difficult to pay back and amounted to a lot of extra money. CUFA highlighted other stories from Cincinnatians who have had a hard time with the high-interest, short-term loans and also pointed to data showing that the average payday loan ends up wracking up 667 percent of the principle in fees.

Winburn, who is a pastor at a local church, says some members of his congregation who don’t have access to bank credit occasionally rely on the loans and that he himself one time had to take one out while he was in school. “I thank God for payday loans,” he said.

• The city of Norwood is in fiscal emergency, according to Fox 19 news. That designation comes from the state when a city is at risk of being unable to pay its bills or make its payroll and brings oversight from the state auditor’s office around a city’s finances. This summer, reports showed that Norwood had just $235 in its general fund, though it was still receiving enough revenue from taxes to keep it afloat. The city’s money problems came to light after it was revealed that it didn’t have enough money to upgrade equipment used by its police department. The city’s latest audit is due out today.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is under investigation by a state lawmaker-appointed special committee regarding suspicions he held up a road project in the state’s Jessamine County in retaliation against a Democratic legislator. Bevin had attempted to woo State Rep. Russ Meyer to the GOP, but Meyer declined and stayed a Democrat. Afterward, Bevin left a phone message for Meyer saying he was disappointed and that Meyer should consider the impact his decision would have on his district.

Then an $11.2 million transportation project in Meyer’s district was cancelled by the governor’s office. Bevin’s office says the cancellation wasn’t political and alleges Meyer is the one playing politics. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat, convened the special committee to investigate the incident and says he has documentation that raises questions about Bevin’s motives for cancelling the project. Meanwhile, Bevin is working to create his own inspector general’s office to look into potential corruption in previous Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration. The back and forth corruption allegations come as Republicans fight to take control of the state House of Representatives, where Democrats currently have a 57-43 majority. Republicans haven’t held a majority there since 1921.

• The Trumps are coming. GOP nominee Donald Trump will be in Cincinnati for a campaign event Oct. 13, his first official rally in the city limits and his first appearance here, in the swingingest county in the swingingest state in the country, since early September. Trump's event will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Arena. What’s more, Trump’s daughter Ivanka will visit Middletown today to drop in on local business Tube Works, owned by Trump supporter Angie Phillips. Ohio is a crucial battleground state, and recent polls have put Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton a couple points ahead of The Donald after a long stalemate between the two.

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