Noon News: Downtown garage on the way out; activists push for $15 minimum wage in Cincy; chaos at the DNC

Are you a historic parking garage preservationist? If so, this may be a dark day for you.

click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland
U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland

Hey hey all. I’m still a little sluggish after spending all week in Cleveland, so you’re getting a noon news update today. Here ya go.

Are you a historic parking garage preservationist? If so, this may be a dark day for you. Long-standing Pogues’ Garage on the corner of Fourth and Race Streets will shut down this coming weekend for good ahead of its slated September demolition. The garage is 50 years old but doesn’t look a day over horrendous. The 10-story chunk of concrete is coming down over the course of three to five months starting next month. Rising in its place? Two-hundred luxury apartments, 25,000 square-feet of retail space and a new 700-space parking garage, a joint effort between Indianapolis developers Flaherty & Collins, 3CDC and the city of Cincinnati.

• Something awesome: Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday. It was an emotional moment for the former Cincinnati Reds star, who teared up multiple times as he addressed the 50,000 people who showed up for the induction ceremony. Also present: Griffey’s father, who played with the Reds during their 1970s heyday, as well as fellow Reds legends Johnny Bench and Tony Perez.

• A 27-year-old social worker and a small group called Cincinnatians for a Strong Economy want to bring a $15 an hour minimum wage to the city. But they might have a big fight ahead. Evan Hennessey of Mount Washington has been going door to door collecting the 6,000 signatures needed to put a minimum wage boost on the November ballot. So far, he has about 1,500, he says. But even if Hennessey and the group backing him get the measure on the ballot, and even if voters approve it, there’s a good chance Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will fight it. DeWine has issued a legal opinion stating that Ohio’s constitution doesn’t allow for cities to set their own minimum wages — that’s the state’s job, the AG says. There are politics in play here — DeWine is running for governor in 2018 — and the fate of similar initiatives in cities like Cleveland hangs in the balance. Opponents like DeWine say the boost would kill businesses through higher labor costs. But proponents like Hennessey claim it could help lift thousands out of poverty.

• Is part of Ohio’s recently passed medical marijuana law unconstitutional? Some lawmakers, including Cincinnati’s State Sen. Bill Seitz, say yes, and that the law may need to be changed. The provision in question sets aside 15 percent of medical marijuana licenses for businesses owned by black, Asian, Native American or Hispanic residents.  But such race-based rules have rarely held up to constitutional challenges, legal experts note, and could be overturned by courts.

• Finally, if you thought things got wild at the RNC last week, well, you haven’t seen anything yet. As Democrats kick off their convention this week, an email dump by hacker organization Wikileaks over the weekend revealed that Democratic Party operatives, who are supposed to remain neutral during the party’s primaries, talked via email disparaging former primary contender U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and plotted ways to boost his opponent, establishment favorite Hillary Clinton. That revelation led to widespread anger among Sanders supporters just as presumptive nominee Clinton looks to consolidate support among progressives as she heads into a tough general election fight against GOP nominee Donald Trump. The revelations sparked the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who has been roundly criticized by Sanders supporters for her handling of the primary elections. At least 1,000 people took to the streets of Philadelphia, where Democrats are holding their convention, to protest against the party and in support of Sanders.

On a side note, inside the convention, a couple Ohio lawmakers are playing big roles in the proceedings. Following Schutlz’s resignation and a shuffling around of Democratic officials following it, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, who represents Cleveland, has become the convention's new chair. What’s more, Cincinnati’s State Rep. Alicia Reece is a DNC co-chair. Look for continuing coverage of the DNC from us this week, though I won’t actually be going there. That would probably kill me after last week.

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