Ohio gubernatorial candidate draws a blank on the Brent Spence; more news

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill was asked during a Democratic primary debate in Middletown yesterday what he'd do about the famously aging span between Kentucky and Ohio. "I don't know about your bridge," he replied.

click to enlarge The Brent Spence Bridge - Anthony 22 via wikipedia
Anthony 22 via wikipedia
The Brent Spence Bridge

Hello Cincy. Let’s just get right into the crazy amount of news going on today.

Last night the Cincinnati Public School Board of Education voted to enter into a land swap agreement with FC Cincinnati so that the team can build its potential stadium in the West End. We have all the details for you from last night’s meeting — including what FCC will have to pay the district and controversy over a community benefits agreement between neighborhood groups and the team — in our story here.

• As we told you last week, Cincinnati City Council seems poised to approve a deal that would make the stadium happen in the West End. But there are still some unknowns. Councilman Jeff Pastor, potentially a vital vote if the arrangement is to pass, indicated yesterday via Twitter that he’s a no vote until the community benefits agreement between FCC and neighborhood groups is signed. Council is set to consider the deal, created by council members P.G. Sittenfeld and David Mann, early next week.

• Greater Cincinnati online auction startup Everything but the House is laying off more than 200 people, the company announced yesterday. Most of those employees work at EBTH’s central processing center, though nine employees at the company’s headquarters downtown will also be let go. The move comes as the company looks to focus more intently on fewer markets. EBTH was in 27 markets in 2016, but dropped to 20 last year.

• Cincinnati Public Schools today will unveil a new program designed to launch high school students into careers in cybersecurity. The district’s new Cyber Academy at Taft IT High School is a partnership between Belcan LLC, LEAD Cincinnati magazine and the district. The program, part of CPS’ My Tomorrow initiative, will set students up for jobs in cybersecurity that can start out at $60,000 a year, the district says.

• The debate between Ohio’s Democrat gubernatorial hopefuls in Middletown last night was mostly a sleepy affair — at least until former Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill rushed in with some unintentional comic relief. When asked about the Brent Spence Bridge, one of the nation’s busiest bridges for commerce and commuter traffic, O’Neill said he’d never heard of the structure, which has been the subject of all sorts of political wrangling statewide and even nationally. It often pops up on lists of the nation’s most critically outdated infrastructure, and its multi-billion-dollar replacement price tag has been the subject of heartburn for current Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky officials (Kentucky officially owns the structure). The other candidates on stage — former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Rich Cordray, former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and State Sen. Joe Schiavoni — all had knowledgeable, if staid, answers to the question. O’Neill, on the other hand, had a very simple reply. “I don’t know about your bridge.” Ouch.

• Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin yesterday signed a bill that will shift new Kentucky teachers onto a hybrid pension system that could mean cuts to benefits. That bill — sneaked last-minute into an unrelated storm water treatment measure without a public hearing — has inflamed the ire of teachers across the state, leading many to call off to protest at the capital and shuttering schools in many districts.

• Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger resigned yesterday after revelations that he’s a subject in a Federal Bureau of Investigations inquiry. It’s unclear what the FBI’s probe into the Republican lawmaker pertains to at this point, but Rosenberger retained the services of an attorney related to the matter just a few days ago. His resignation officially takes effect May 1, but Speaker Pro Tem Kirk Schuring of Canton is already filling in as house speaker temporarily.

• Speaking of speakers, Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover, also a Republican, will receive a fine and a public reprimand from the state’s ethics commission over a secret settlement he signed with a female staffer who accused him of sending her inappropriate text messages. In exchange for that punishment, negotiated with the state’s prosecutor, there was no public testimony about sexual harassment allegations.

• Speaking again of speakers, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will not seek another term in Congress. That’s a big blow to Republicans looking to keep control of the House in the face of a potential anti-Trump wave. Rumors about Ryan’s coming retirement have floated for a while, but multiple news sources reported this morning that he was close to confirming that he won’t seek reelection next year.

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