Morning News: Walnut Hills unveils neighborhood plan; Cincy FOP president rails against racial justice activists; Ohio mayors team up to advocate for urban areas

Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils took to Facebook this morning to voice frustrations with activists, politicians and the media following incidents across the country over the weekend in which four police officers were shot.

click to enlarge Cincinnati Police Headquarters - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati Police Headquarters

Good morning all. Here’s some news today.

The Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation Friday presented its vision for the future of the neighborhood to the Cincinnati Planning Commission, outlining a plan for the quickly redeveloping neighborhood. WHRF director Kevin Wright says the plan will increase development and economic prosperity there while avoiding displacement of the neighborhood’s low-income residents. The proposals, which you can find here, call for a fund to help longtime homeowners in the neighborhood avoid code violations through façade renovations, a partnership with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority to provide more single-family homes in the area south of McMillan Street, efforts to turn Gilbert and McMillan avenues into more pedestrian-friendly areas with more retail and residential development, major redevelopment and boosts to black-owned businesses on Lincoln Avenue and many more ideas. Renewed interest in the neighborhood from developers and higher-income home buyers has sparked fears about gentrification and displacement from residents there, as CityBeat reported earlier this year.

• Pedestrian safety has become a big concern in Cincinnati lately, especially after the death of a popular Northside business owner this summer in a hit and run accident. But how often do hit and run cases between pedestrians and motorists lead to charges? Not very often, it turns out, according to this WCPO report. Of 444 hit and run incidents in the past three years in Cincinnati, only 63 — or 14 percent — have led to charges against a motorist. That’s because hit and run cases are complicated, police say, and it’s not always possible to find a perpetrator if a license plate or car description isn’t available or complete. What’s more, hit and run incidents involving pedestrians or cyclists are increasing steadily, data shows. The city has taken some steps to try and reduce these kinds of accidents, especially at particularly dangerous locations, but is still working on long-term solutions to the problem.

• Following incidents across the country over the weekend in which four police officers were shot and one was killed, Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils took to Facebook this morning to voice frustrations with activists, politicians and the media when it comes to violence against police. The incidents happened in multiple cities, including in San Antonio, where Detective Benjamin Marconi was shot and killed while writing a traffic ticket.

In his post, Hils compared police shooters “who are being indoctrinated that they are being targeted and abused” by activists to radicalized Islamic fundamentalists.

“Certain activist groups, many politicians and many in the media do everything they can to divide this country,” Hils wrote in the post. “When it feels so unjust to many, who can they blame? That's right, police officers.

The men and women that each night that break up the family fights, respond for reports of gunfire and pick up the pieces of inner city violence. We have become the cannon fodder for the racial dissension that is being advanced for the marketing and profit of too many.

People indoctrinated that they are being targeted and abused will turn bitter. Some will act out violently. This is no different than Muslim children being brought up indoctrinated that everything lacking in their lives is because of Jews and Americans. Some will strap on suicide vest and walk into a mall. In America we are telling minority children everything and everyone is against them, especially the police.”

Despite Hils’ charged message, officer deaths by gunfire are at average levels this year. Fifty-eight police officers have been shot and killed this year, a spike from 41 shot and killed last year. The tally this year is exactly the same as the 10-year average for police gunfire deaths — 58 — however, according to data kept by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. There have been hikes and dips in the number of officers killed by gunfire since 2006, that data shows. In 2007 and 2011, there were 70 and 73 gunfire deaths, for example, while 2013 saw 33. Last year was tied for the second-lowest number of gunfire fatalities in the past decade.

• The Greater Cincinnati area will get $125 million in federal investment in the form of New Market Tax Credits going to three local organizations, it was announced Thursday. The Cincinnati Development Fund scored $65 million, Kroger Community Development received $15 million and the Uptown Consortium received $45 million from the feds. That money can be used to spur development that will “create jobs and lift up the local economy,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in a statement announcing the credits last week. The New Market Tax Credits program was created in 2000 to encourage community revitalization, often in urban areas.

• Mayors of 30 Ohio cities and suburbs are teaming up to push state lawmakers and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to better represent the interests of the state’s urban areas. The coalition, which represents cities making up about one-third of the state’s population, includes Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. The bipartisan group includes 20 Democrats and 10 Republicans and is focused on underscoring the contribution the state’s urban areas make in terms of employment, tax dollars and private investment.

We want this organization to raise the awareness of what cities are and what cities are not in Ohio," Cranley said at a Friday news conference in Columbus. "I think too often the rhetoric coming out of Columbus suggests that somehow we're welfare dependent... The fact is that we are net donors to the state in taxes and most of the jobs are being created in the cities and we as cities give more to the state than we receive in return “

The group is advocating for return of funding taken from cities by cuts to the state’s Local Government Fund. It’s also saying that the state should help cities more with the heroin crisis and infrastructure improvements.

• It’s been a bad stretch for Democrats nationally and statewide. After a political drubbing, Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper is calling on party leaders to come huddle in Ohio to discuss the future. The focus of that conversation: a deeply thought out debate about who the next chair of the Democratic Party should be. And that debate should start in Ohio, Pepper says.

"The next chair needs to have a plan for how you win states like Ohio and Pennsylvania," Pepper said. "That's priority No. 1, and the best way to have a plan to win Ohio is to come to Ohio."

• Finally, it's been a tense 24 hours in Standing Rock, North Dakota, where activists and indigenous groups are opposing a $3.8 billion pipeline. Law enforcement efforts against protesters there have increased again recently, with officers using water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas against demonstrators standing in the 10 degree weather. The Morton County, N.D. Sheriff's Office has said that some 400 activists tried to cross a bridge that officers have had blockaded for months, and that the situation is an "ongoing riot." The sheriff's office also claims that protesters have started fires near the bridge. However, activists, including some from Cincinnati who are in Standing Rock, say the protests have been peaceful and that the use of force is unwarranted. Photos and videos posted by those activists show tear gas and water cannons being fired at protesters standing stationary in fields. Cincinnati had sent 37 state troopers to aid law enforcement efforts, though they have since returned home.

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