Hello all. Here’s a quick rundown of the news going on around Cincy today.
Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman is seeking a ballot referendum in Cincinnati that would amend the city’s charter to move city council back to two-year terms. Council’s current four-year terms went into effect in 2013 after a similar city-wide vote. Smitherman says recent fights over FC Cincinnati's potential West End stadium, City Manager Harry Black and other controversies inspired the move. He claims the change will make council members more responsive to voters. Critics, however, say it will mean that council will constantly be campaigning. Would the change calm the divisive politics that have long roiled City Hall and make council members more responsive? If Smitherman’s ballot initiative gets 6,410 signatures, voters will get to decide whether to find out. Cincinnati City Council could also vote to put the idea on the ballot without the signatures, though it’s unclear if the votes are there to do so. Smitherman’s proposal would go into effect in 2021 — the next council election.
• Following another mass shooting at a school in Santa Fe, Texas last week, local activists Friday will rally to advocate for tighter gun control. The protest, organized by the Young Activist Coalition, will take place at 6 p.m. outside U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office downtown at 312 Walnut Street. Formerly called the Young Feminists Coalition, the group helped organize a March rally and march calling for stricter gun laws that drew thousands of people downtown. That rally responded to the mass shooting at a Florida high school that killed 13 people. Ten students were killed in the recent Texas shooting after the gunman, a student at the school, began firing at fellow students with a shotgun and handgun that law enforcement officials believe he obtained from his father.
• Is Major League Soccer set to announce its choice for the expansion franchise FC Cincinnati is competing for within a week? It is if you listen to Bill Cunningham and not the league or the team. The 700WLW host said yesterday that he heard from FCC GM Jeff Berding that a league decision is imminent. FC Cincinnati later clarified that league officials are expected to schedule a visit to the team’s chosen West End stadium site before Memorial Day, and that there’s still no set date for MLS’ final decision. Oops. MLS, meanwhile, told The Cincinnati Enquirer last week that it is not aware of any scheduled visits to the stadium site. So basically… we don’t know when anything is happening just yet.
• A bench in Northside where residents could leave items they wanted to give away has been removed after threats of fines by the city. The so-called “free bench,” beloved by some in the community, was causing litter violations, the city said, and needed to be removed. If it wasn’t, the owner of the property at Fergus and Knowlton Streets would be fined $500 a month. The city says it received eight complaints about the bench over the past year and a half, triggering the enforcement actions. Residents say they’re searching for new places to put multiple new exchange benches in the neighborhood.
• Greater Cincinnati gained another Fortune 500 company this year, bringing its total to nine. Mason-based Cintas Corp., which makes uniforms and other institutional products, made it onto the list this year at number 500. The company joins Procter & Gamble, Macy’s, Fifth Third Bancorp, Western and Southern Financial Group and others on the list.
• Hamilton County Commissioners are set to hold their regularly-scheduled meeting Wednesday at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. That’s so commission president Todd Portune, who had his leg amputated to remove tumors last month, can vote at the meeting. Portune has been attending meetings since his surgery via teleconference, but state law requires he be physically present at the meetings in order to vote.
• If you live in Kentucky, today’s your last day to vote in the state’s primaries. What’s at stake? For Democrats, a chance to take on U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, the Republican who represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District. There are three — Seth Hall, Christina Lord and Patti Piatt — vying for the opportunity. There are also a number of state House and Senate primary races to watch, especially given the political turbulence in the state around budget cuts for education and other big state functions.