Morning News: Strickland stumps in Cincy; Lytle Park plans scaled back; what is Aleppo?

A planned overhaul of Lytle Park is being scaled back after voters said no thanks to a tax levy floated by Mayor John Cranley.

The city's original plans for Lytle Park included running paths, security walls and other amenities.
The city's original plans for Lytle Park included running paths, security walls and other amenities.

Heya Cincy. Let’s talk news.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the Democratic contender in the state’s big Senate race, will appear in Cincinnati today as part of a statewide tour discussing his record helping working families, according to a release from Ohio Democratic Party. Strickland will appear at 10 a.m. at Smale Riverfront Park with Mayor John Cranley, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, and City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, his former primary opponent in the Senate race. Strickland will also discuss his role in efforts to bring economic development to The Banks. Strickland is challenging Republican incumbent Senator Rob Portman, who has of late begun pulling away in the polls. With two months until the election, both campaigns are shifting into high gear.

• The big news of the past 24 hours, at least in my neck of the woods, is that the area around University of Cincinnati’s campus will get a Target next year. But not just any, suburban warehouse version of Target. No, it’ll be an urban, “flexible format” location. I do not know what that means exactly but it seems the store will carry items specific to the college and urban living crowd — think dorm stuff, some groceries, some pre-made food, some sports swag. The store will move into the big U Square development at the corner of Calhoun and Market Streets next July. It will be interesting to see an area once so underserved by grocery stores with multiple options — a larger, reworked Kroger location is going in just blocks away, and the cooperative Clifton Market is currently setting up shop about a mile north in Clifton.

• A plan to redo downtown’s Lytle Park will be scaled back significantly, representatives from Cincinnati Parks said yesterday. The park neighbors both Western and Southern Life Insurance headquarters and the former women’s shelter the Anna Louise Inn, which the company’s real estate subsidiary, Eagle Realty, controversially purchased a few years ago. Originally, the park was slated for a $6 million, W&S-approved overhaul that would have been paid for by a tax levy floated by Mayor John Cranley. Voters said no thanks to that levy last year, however, and now the parks department plans to spend just over $1 million on the project. Gone from the drawing board: a running path, security walls (for a public park?), fountains and a stage, all of which won’t be built without some outside investment to the tune of $1 million or more. That could come from W&S directly, but they’re staying mum on how much they’re willing to chip in. There’s also some disagreement about what amenities should go in the park if extras are funded. Business leaders, including W&S officials, would like to see the running path built, while surrounding residents say they don’t see a need and would like something else.

• So. It’s official. Marijuana is legal in Ohio as of today, as long as you’re using it to treat one of a few defined diseases and have gotten it through legal channels with the approval of a doctor. About that, though: The letter of the law and the reality of the situation are two vastly different things, and even though you wouldn’t be a criminal if you sparked up to treat some symptoms right now, there’s really no way for you to get the legal weed and probably won’t be for a while. Ohio’s medicinal marijuana infrastructure is still in its infancy, as are the legal guidelines for when doctors can prescribe the drug and precedents for how the state law will work considering federal prohibitions on marijuana still exist. State lawmakers earlier this year passed the law, making Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana, after pressure from voters and ballot initiative groups to do so. Despite this, Ohio’s system for distributing and regulating the drugs isn’t required to be ready until this time in 2018.

• Finally, if you tuned into network TV last night, which… does anyone still do that?... you got a preview of the coming presidential debates. NBC held a so-called “Commander in Chief Forum” during which it asked both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her Republican competitor Donald Trump a wide range of foreign policy questions. Most pundits agree Clinton roundly beat out Trump when it came to foreign policy knowledge and diplomacy. Trump also made an eyebrow-raising statement that Russia's Vladimir Putin is a better leader than President Barack Obama. But the true loser of the evening wasn’t even competing. Forum moderator and Today show host Matt Lauer has gotten savaged by other members of the media and political analysts for his handling of the event, specifically for failing to fact-check or challenge less-than-truthful statements the candidates made. Here’s a story with some of that criticism… and it is brutal.

• But Lauer can at least rest assured knowing that elsewhere, someone is having an even worse day today. Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who has been floated by some as a conservative’s alternative to voting for Trump, made perhaps the biggest gaffe in the campaign on MSNBC this morning. When asked what he would do about Aleppo, the Syrian city that has been ravaged by the country’s civil war, sparking an international refugee crisis, Johnson replied, “What is Aleppo?” Ouch. Better plan: Act like you had a childhood friend named Albert Eppo and begin talking about him until the TV news commentator elaborates. But yeah, too late now.

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