Ohio's Senators to Trump: Don't split up immigrant families; more news

New policies separating immigrant children from their parents seeking asylum have caused outrage, pushing Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman to issue statements decrying the practice

click to enlarge Sherrod Brown - Photo: Official portrait
Photo: Official portrait
Sherrod Brown

Hello all! Here’s a quick news rundown for you today.

Hamilton County Commission yesterday voted to increase the county’s sales tax by .2 percentage points. And, as you might expect, some people are pretty angry about that. The boost will cost a household making $50,000 a year about $24 extra annually. There’s already a petition for a ballot initiative by anti-tax group COAST opposed to the tax hike. COAST will need 23,000 valid signatures from county residents to land the tax increase on the ballot. The hike comes as the county has been looking for ways to bridge a multi-million dollar budget gap. Commissioners Todd Portune and Denise Driehaus, who both voted for the hike, say the county has already cut itself to the bone and that 40 percent of the revenue raised by that tax is paid by people outside the county. But opponents say it will drive down local business as consumers buy less.

• The organization representing black Cincinnati Police officers yesterday slammed a recent lawsuit alleging discriminatory practices against white officers as “inaccurate and inflammatory.” CPD specialist Joy Ludgatis and officer Tamera Brown filed that lawsuit last week alleging that the department provides favorable treatment to black officers. The suit specifically calls out lack of discipline against Lt. Danita Pettis for alleged vindictiveness and serious ethical lapses during her time at CPD. But the Sentinels Police Association says the lawsuit is an attack on two court rulings in the 1980s that attempted to right discriminatory hiring and employment practices against blacks at CPD. “We will not let this city retreat to Jim Crow employment rules inequality and retaliation," the group said in a statement yesterday. The lawsuit is part of an ongoing and complex rift within CPD involving Pettis, Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils and other high-ranking officers.

• Former Vice President Joe Biden will make a stop in Cincinnati June 29 to help Democrat gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray raise money for his campaign. Biden will make an appearance at a fundraiser held at the Queen City Club before jetting up to Cleveland to help raise money for U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is running for reelection this year.

• SkyHouse, a planned 25-story, $94 million apartment building next to the Purple People Bridge on the banks of the Ohio River, won’t be happening after all, developers say. Atlanta-based Novare Group announced the project in 2016, but president Jim Borders says the costs for the project kept going up, while the rents the company would be able to charge stayed flat. The project would have contained 352 apartments and 3,000 square feet of retail space.

• After years of receiving city funding, one of the region’s major addiction treatment centers may not get it in next year’s City of Cincinnati budget. The Center for Addiction Treatment in the West End has been on the front lines of the region’s addiction crisis, but a complicated sequence of events may mean it loses the $180,000 it once got annually from the city. Last year, Cincinnati City Council voted to give the center a last-minute infusion of $75,000 outside of the city’s usual, United Way-led funding mechanisms. CAT’s leadership and supporters are lobbying council to do the same thing this year. You can read more about the situation — and what it says about overall human services funding in the city — in our story here.

• Both of Ohio’s U.S. Senators are criticizing policies by the Trump administration separating migrant families at the U.S. border. Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Republican, issued statements today condemning a new “zero tolerance” policy by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that calls for undocumented immigrants seeking asylum to be prosecuted for immigration offenses and separated from their children. The policy has led to immigration officers holding children in decommissioned department stores and, potentially, in tent cities on military bases as their parents await trial.

Outrage has been building around the policy change, especially after a ProPublica story this week that included audio of immigrant children crying in a detention center as an immigration officer made a joke about them sounding like "an orchestra."

“All children should be treated with compassion,” Brown said. “Tearing families apart is wrong and will not fix our broken immigration system.”

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