West End group to deliver ask to FCC today; Cleveland man exonerated in 2002 murder; more news

A committee of the West End Community Council will deliver requests for a community benefits agreement to FCC today, though some community council members have raised concerns.

click to enlarge Cincinnati's West End - NICK SWARTSELL
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati's West End

Good morning, Cincy! Here’s some quick news for your Monday.

More than 5,000 people attended Cincinnati’s March for Our Lives rally at City Hall on Saturday, and organizers report even more joined in a march afterward through downtown. The event, organized by students with the Young Feminists Coalition and activist group United We Stand, was one of hundreds across the country calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla. on Feb. 14. You can see photos of the march and read our story about it here.

• FC Cincinnati has said it wants to choose a site for its potential stadium by March 31. So, how close are they as that latest deadline approaches? Of the three sites, Newport appears to be the easiest for the team — there’s no governmental red tape left to cut at the site near the Licking and Ohio Rivers, and FCC has a deal with developers Corporex for the location. A location in Oakley would be a little bit trickier, requiring some final Cincinnati City Council approval of development plans. But that could happen this week if necessary.

That leaves the West End. Days after the West End Community Council voted decisively against FC Cincinnati locating its stadium in the neighborhood, an ad-hoc committee of that council met Saturday to hammer out what it wants from the team should it place its stadium there. That, however, has created some controversy. A CityBeat reporter was not permitted to attend that closed meeting, but correspondence between committee members and council president Keith Blake reveals at least some have misgivings about the process and question why the council is drawing up an ask for FCC before the team has indicated it will select the West End.

“We are worried that the people who met for the ad-hoc committee today don't have a mandate from the full body of the community council to put forward any final recommendations without approval from the rest of our neighbors,” a missive to Blake from two committee members reads. “Last Tuesday, the council decided not to approve the stadium at all. We also decided that a committee would only come together if they chose to come here despite our vote, and our members were very clear in that we wanted to have final approval on anything the council recommends.”

The message goes on to quote both Blake and community council executive board member Robert Killings, Jr. saying during the general body vote that a CBA would only come into play should FCC indicate it was going forward with a stadium in the West End and that any agreement would come before the general body before being finalized.

Correspondence from Blake to the committee indicates the draft community benefits agreement will be turned in to FCC today.

Originally, FCC was supposed to find out in December whether it has been selected for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise — the whole reason for the current stadium shuffle. That deadline has been pushed back multiple times. FCC General Manager Jeff Berding now says the team likely won’t find out until after its first home game April 7. 

 • As we reported late last week, former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing will get $344,000 in back pay and legal fees related to his firing after he shot unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015. You can read more about UC’s settlement in our story here.

• Sad news: Maynie Tucker, of Tucker’s Restaurant fame, has died at age 97. Tucker spent 70 years running the restaurant and worked until she was 94 years old, witnessing and playing a key role in the everyday lives of folks in Over-the-Rhine as well as living through a fire, a shooting in the restaurant and OTR’s 2001 civil unrest.

• State Sen. Cecil Thomas will announce new legislation designed to curb gun violence today at 10 a.m. in Washington Park. Last year, Thomas introduced a bill in the state legislature to ban bump stocks, or alterations to semi-automatic weapons that allow them to fire more rapidly. 

• Teachers at a Campbell County elementary school held a rally before school this morning to protest state budget cuts to education. Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s two year spending plan would slice $138 million in state funds from public schools’ transportation funding, money that schools would have to make up from other parts of their budgets. Bevin’s spending plan would also require schools to cut administrative costs by 12 percent. Those cuts come as part of a larger plan to cut the size of state government in Kentucky. Teachers in Kenton and Boone counties protested those reductions Friday.

• A Cleveland man in prison for a 2002 murder will likely soon be free after a lengthy investigation by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office found he was wrongfully convicted, the Cleveland Scene reports. At a hearing Wednesday, the prosecutor’s office will report findings showing Ru-El Sailor wasn’t present during the murder of Omar Clark — information that should allow Sailor to walk free after more than 15 years in prison.

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