Hello all. Here’s a quick news rundown to take us into the weekend.
FC Cincinnati announced the team that will design and construct its $200 million stadium in the West End today. You can read more about the firms involved in our story here. FCC says it hopes to break ground on the stadium by the end of the year. It won’t do so, however, until a replacement for Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium, which occupies the site, is completed across Ezzard Charles Drive. In the meantime, a couple local businesses and at least one resident in the stadium’s footprint are waiting to find out where they’ll relocate to, as we reported earlier this week.
• Playing a bit of catch-up on this one, but here we go: Cincinnati City Council this week opted not to move forward with a bid from a developer to build an apartment building on a site just north of City Hall, instead leaving the door open for Cincinnati Public Radio to build a new headquarters there. Initially, it looked like Indianapolis-based developer Milhaus was going to get the nod to build on that land, which the city currently owns. Milhaus wanted to build a mixed-use, 100-unit apartment building with retail space at the site near Plum and Court streets. But council this week rejected that plan by a 1-8 vote. The deal with the developer, which company officials say Mayor John Cranley backed, would have had the city selling the land for $250,000 — much less than its $1.5 million market value. Cincinnati Public Radio, meanwhile, will pay the full market value for the land in constructing its $10 million to $15 million headquarters, which will include a coffee shop and public plaza.
• A former “president” is currently campaigning for Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval as the Democrat tries to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot from the 1st Congressional District. Martin Sheen, who played POTUS on hit TV series The West Wing, is appearing in campaign missives from the Pureval crew.
“Acting is what I do for a living, but activism is what I do to stay alive,” Sheen writes in a fundraising email blast sent from Pureval’s campaign today. (Career tip for Sheen: Don’t give up the screen for a copywriting career). Sheen highlights his Ohio roots in the ad and gives Pureval his endorsement.
“I've played many roles in my life,” Sheen writes. “But deep down, I'll always be the boy from Southwestern Ohio who was fired from working as a caddie because I organized a walk-out over low wages. Nothing will ever change if we don't take risks. Aftab gets that — he ran to be the first Democratic Hamilton County Clerk of Courts in 100 years —and succeeded.”
Pureval faces long odds in his quest to upset Chabot, whose redrawn district encompasses deep-red Warren County. However, recent forecasts by election watchers have put the district slightly less in the GOP’s once iron-clad grasp.
• A controversial Confederate monument in Franklin that was removed by the city has a new home on private property. The monument, formerly on Dixie Highway, was removed last August by city of Franklin officials and then turned over to Franklin Township. That prompted outcry from some residents, who wanted the small stone and brass plaque dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee to stay where it was. The Fraternal Order of the Eagles now has the monument on its property in the city of Franklin.
• A Cincinnati law firm tapped by the state of Ohio to investigate sexual harassment complaints against State Rep. Bill Seitz found him not guilty of charges stemming from a January roast for an outgoing state official. But there’s one problem, Ohio Democrats say — Seitz worked for that law firm, Cincinnati-based Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, for 36 years. What’s more, Seitz’s critics point out, the firm gave to Seitz’s campaign while they were investigating him. The initial, anonymous complaint stems from comments Seitz made at an event for then-Ohio House of Representatives Chief of Staff Mike Dittoe, who was retiring. At the event Seitz made several jokes at the expense of his female Republican colleagues and also made fun of recent sexual harassment scandals in the House. After those remarks were revealed, Democrats in the House called for Seitz’s resignation and the investigation was launched. But Democrats point out that only three interviews were conducted. Attorney General Mike DeWine says his office had no knowledge of Seitz’s connection to the law firm.
• The Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill that would protect pastors whose churches refuse to perform same-sex marriages from legal action. That bill, the “Pastor Protection Act,” was sponsored by State Rep. Nino Vitale, who says it is aimed at protecting religious freedom. Critics, however, say it could cause discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
“The problem with the bill is not that clergy can choose not to marry someone if it goes against their faith,” Alana Jochum, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Equality Ohio, said in a press release. “They currently have –– and should have — that right. It is that the bill goes further, and allows for undefined ‘religious societies’ to discriminate against couples seeking to marry with regard to public accommodations."