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Govt & Politics

OP: Crime won’t cease if rampant gentrification doesn’t

614now Staff



Mayor Ginther wants to knuckle down on crime. With a startling uptick in homicides highlighting one of the more robust years for criminal activity in recent memory, Ginther has to turn things around, or he’ll spend the remainder of his term bobbing around the local political waters like a wounded porpoise, being feasted upon by hungry barracudas.

Everybody seems mystified by the increase in criminal activity, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that the city’s covert endorsement of rampant gentrification has created pockets of extreme poverty. While people in areas favored by abatement-aided development enjoy robust micro economies, access to services, jobs, and a desirable lifestyle, those in the neglected areas are seeing an increase in blight, vacated properties, and crime.

The Administration’s development strategy is like a doctor treating a patient by providing increased care to the healthy parts of the body, while ignoring cancer.

Eventually that cancer is going to spread, and that’s precisely what’s happening with crime in Columbus.  More streetlights and police aren’t enough. The city needs to start supporting its weakest neighborhoods with some tax abatement TLC.

Why are people getting tax breaks on million dollar condos, when middle class people living in Linden or in the long-forsaken Hilltop neighborhoods could use some help? Encourage people to buy homes, and start small businesses in those neighborhoods with much more reasonable abatements, while those living in million dollar condos start paying what they owe.

We keep hearing talk about how the city wants to invest in these areas, but we haven’t seen any action. Meanwhile, developers in the Short North are still getting incentives from the city.

The Short North is so desirable right now, developers would probably pay a luxury tax to build there, cutting them multi-million dollar tax breaks is a crime against the taxpayers of this city.

Meanwhile, the city is sitting on a large tract of land on North Wheatland Avenue. Rather than use tax abatements to encourage a developer to build something that would bring jobs to the area, the city is scheming with an organization that specializes in building cheap housing with federal grants. WODA has already constructed an unappealing apartment for senior citizens on the far north end of this tract, and now wants to build a similar, shoddy structure for low income residents.  This would only further increase the level of poverty on the west side, which would make the area even less desirable to potential business owners who would be inclined to lease property in the retail corridor on West Broad.

If Mayor Ginther is serious about wanting to crack down on crime, he will revisit the city’s development strategy and find a way to balance growth with economic diversity.

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Govt & Politics

City Attorney Klein, Columbus leaders outline need, steps for police reform




Elder Larry Price speaks at the police reform press conference on Wednesday, June 3.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and a few Columbus community leaders gathered at the Michael B. Coleman Government Center for a press conference addressing plans to “reform the culture of justice in Columbus.”

Klein, who has been urged to improve the systematic problems with policing, acknowledged during the press conference that “there’s systematic racism in every step of government.”

Asking the rhetorical question, What are we going to do about it?, Klein followed with, “The time for action is now.”

Those who spoke at the press conference also included:

  • Elder Larry Price, chairman of the Criminal and Justice Committee and Columbus chapter of the NAACP
  • Stephanie Hightower, president of CEO of the Columbus Urban League
  • Pastor Frederick LaMarr, president of the Baptist Pastor’s Conference of Columbus

LaMarr led off the discussion, delivering a message to “set aside differences to bring about real reform.”

Klein then made a few brief comments before giving Hightower and Price a chance to speak.

“Racism should’ve never been a part of the American epic,” Hightower said.

Price, who will also be speaking on behalf of the NAACP on Friday at 12 p.m., asking for a citizen review board in Columbus.

“The oldest, boldest, baddest organization on the earth now says, It is time. Enough is enough,” Price said.

Klein outlined the immediate actions that the Columbus government is going to take to reform systematic racism in the police department. 

They are outlined as follows:

  • Appoint special counsel from outside of the city to investigate the ongoing protests in Columbus, something that was also done in Charlottesville
  • Conduct a review of the Columbus Police Department’s procedures of clearing the streets of peaceful protests
  • Change the Columbus Division of Police’s use of chemical agents against nonviolent protesters
  • Submitted evidence to the Columbus Division of Police  Internal Affairs Bureau of uses of chemical agents and encourage Columbus citizens 
  • Create a citizen review board
  • Move charging decisions for alleged misdemeanor criminal offenses to inside the Columbus city attorney’s office for review before they are filed
  • Conduct a review of the Columbus City Code
  • Achieve police-community reform

Klein then took time after outlining the city's plan to answer questions from the media. A topic addressed in those questions included mention of the treatment of reporters in Columbus, specifically from The Lantern. 

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Govt & Politics

NY Times lauds Dr. Amy Acton with video tribute




If you live in Ohio, you'd have to have been living under rock these last 6 weeks to not know who Dr. Amy Acton is. Now the NY Times is making sure the rest of the country knows too with this nearly 7-minute tribute video titled, "The leader we all wish we had".

As the state's lead spokesperson on the healthcare side of the pandemic, Acton has received wide praise from both near and far. Despite recent protests that occurred outside of her Bexley home, most Ohioans believe she has been a shining star in these dark times.

She has a tribute t-shirt, "Not all Heroes Wear capes" created by Homage

Her own (Ok, Gov. Dewine too) tribute parody video

Her very own bobblehead from the Bobblehead Hall of Fame

A Facebook Fan Page with over 133,000 members

Here's our profile piece from the April issue of (614) Magazine - the cover of which is featured in the NY Times video. Very cool, Sarah!

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Govt & Politics

Views from the state house protest




For the third consecutive day, hundreds of protestors were out in force around the state house grounds. The demands of the loosely organized crowd are as diverse as the people in it. Signs run the gamut from - lifting the stay-at-home order, anti-vaccine issues, damage caused by non-essential business closures, constitutionality, and even a plea to release Joe Exotic.

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