‘His life was not only stolen from him, but from us.’ - Gabe Taye’s mother

Miss USA clarifies health care statement

UC awards highest honor to sportscaster alumnus

Applications are available now for the 2017 Ohio Minority Engineering Student Scholarship Program (OMESSP) sponsored by CT Consultants, Inc. in collaboration with Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and New Visions Group, LLC.

The purpose of the OMESSP is to foster minority students majoring in civil engineering through mentorship and financial assistance and possible internship opportunities.

The 2017 application process is currently open on a rolling basis with award cycles beginning in May, August and January. Applicants can view program details, past recipients and complete the application form online at http://www.ctconsultants.com/about-us/scholarship.

The Ohio Minority Engineering Student Scholarship Program offers four $2,500.00 scholarships on an annual basis to students enrolled in accredited Ohio colleges or universities in a civil engineering program. Since its establishment in 2008, the program has awarded 23 scholarships totaling $57,500.00 to undergraduate students from seven Ohio colleges and universities.

For requirements and information visit http://www.ctconsultants.com/about-us/scholarship

Evanston homeowner Rev. Peterson Mingo shows Rev. Thomas Hargis of the Jubilee Project, which aids homeowners with code enforcement problems, where repairs have begun on a wall on his Trimble Street property. Photo by Dan Yount

As part of a new collaboration between the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s HYPE platform (Harnessing Young Professional Energy) and the Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Southwestern Ohio, Tamaya Dennard has been awarded a Cincinnati Chamber C-Change Leadership Development Program Scholarship.

Dennard, a member of the Urban League Young Professionals, is a specialist at Cincinnati’s Design Impact, a non-profit social innovation firm made up of designers, community development practitioners, social entrepreneurs, and educators. Dennard is also a 2017 candidate for Cincinnati City Council.

“The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is thrilled to provide a full scholarship to one of the Cincinnati Chamber’s signature YP programs, C-Change,” said Jordan Vogel, vice president of Talent Initiatives for the Cincinnati Chamber. “Congratulations to Tamaya. We can’t wait to have her in the program!”

The scholarship was presented at the April 21 event, Affirmed, the Urban League’s YP Honors Brunch & Awards Ceremony.

“The Cincinnati Chamber is grateful and excited to be part of the affirmation of these incredibly talented YPs,” said Jill P. Meyer, president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “We are excited to come together, collaborate and celebrate with the Urban League Young Professional group, and its innovative president, Ashlee Young.”

C-Change is a year-long leadership-development program for emerging leaders in the Cincinnati USA region. The curriculum combines personal leadership development with community engagement for a program that enhances current leadership roles and prepares participants for future ones, both professionally and personally.

The Urban League Young Professionals of Greater Southwestern Ohio exists for the sole purpose of advancing the Urban League Movement through volunteerism, philanthropy and membership development. It harnesses the talents, drive and compassion of men and women, ages 21 – 40, to generate direct and consistent support for the mission the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio affiliate, which is to transform generations by promoting personal empowerment and economic self-sufficiency. 

HYPE (Harnessing Young Professional Energy) is a robust platform designed to ensure the Cincinnati region remains a top destination for young professionals to live and work. Produced by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, HYPE offers programs, events and resources to engage, develop and retain young talent. For more information, visit www.hypecincinnati.com

City officials intervene on behalf of Black community leader Rev. Mingo

The Cincinnati Board of Education on Tuesday, May 10, unanimously selected Laura Mitchell, currently deputy superintendent and chief academic officer for Cincinnati Public Schools, to become the 27th superintendent of the 35,000-student district, the largest public school system in Southwest Ohio. She begins her new duties on August 1.

Mitchell, a graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts, was one of two finalists to emerge as a leading candidate through an extensive national search process shaped in large part by input from local stakeholders. Final interviews of Mitchell and the other finalist, Andre Spencer, Superintendent of Harrison District 2 in Colorado Springs, Colo., were conducted in executive session by the Board just prior to the Board’s 2 p.m. vote Tuesday in an open session.

Mitchell has led implementation of major district academic improvement strategies including the Elementary Initiative, which raised achievement in the district’s 16 lowest performing elementary schools; and My Tomorrow, a comprehensive college and career readiness initiative.

“I am excited to be selected as the next superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools,” Mitchell said. “I have a passion and love for Cincinnati Public Schools, and my highest priority will be to accelerate academic achievement throughout our district and properly prepare our students to compete globally. I intend to work collaboratively with students, parents, staff, business leaders and members of the community to ensure that all of our schools are good schools and that all of our students have opportunities for excellence.”

Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby praised the caliber of both finalists, who were recruited through a search process that began in late January with development of 13 priority qualities through surveys, open meetings and small-group sessions involving parents, district employees and community representatives.

“We are grateful to our stakeholders for helping us identify such bright, dynamic educational leaders. We also are very appreciative of the role played by Superintendent Mary Ronan over the past nine years in strengthening the position of CPS as a

progressive urban district, attracting great candidates to become her successor,” Copeland-Dansby said.
       Mitchell has worked five years with Ronan, and Ronan said she thought the Board made a “perfect’’ selection. Mitchell said she admired the way Ronan was extremely involved in the community and plans to follow her lead.

A total of 58 candidates applied for the position, representing a diverse demographic pool including applicants from across the country. Applicants included 14 females and 44 males; 30 White candidates; 21 African American candidates, three Hispanic candidates and four representing other ethnicities. They came from more than 40 states.

The Board began the search following Ronan’s announcement in November that she would retire at the end of July.

Mitchell leads the My Tomorrow district initiative which empowers CPS students to turn their dreams, aspirations and strengths into concrete plans for their future.  She prepares urban youth for college/career success through rigorous curriculum, Advanced Placement courses, one-to-one digital devices, enrichment opportunities, college and career experiences and through community service projects.

Prior to her current role, Mitchell served as a teacher, principal and program manager for the Stupski Foundation, where she worked with large urban districts across the nation.  Over the course of her career, her educational initiatives have been recognized on a national level.  Her reform accomplishments have been highlighted through multimedia:  television, radio and professional publications.  She has served as the keynote speaker for several conferences and is the subject of a leadership case study published by the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, which focused on school turnaround.

Mitchell was instrumental in leading a team of principals, teachers and instructional coaches to increase the academic achievement of 16 underperforming schools.  That work elevated Cincinnati Public Schools to the rating of “Effective,” making CPS the first and only urban district in Ohio to earn this distinction.

She has been awarded the Mayor’s Salute Award, Governor’s Educational Leadership Award, State of Ohio Senate Commendation and House of Representatives Tribute for Nationally Recognized Educator as well as the Milken National Award.

Gabriel Taye. Photo provided

Tamia Stinson. Photo provided

Robyn F. Chatman, MD, was recently installed as the first Black President of the Ohio State Medical Association following her year of service as president elect. 

She will represent all Ohio MD’s to the public, state and national legislature, and press.

Chapman is a past president of The Cincinnati Academy of Medicine, AMA delegate for Ohio, First District Councilor (Ohio State Medical Association Board of Directors representative for seven counties in Southwest Ohio), commissioner to End Health Disparities, and first vice president of Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky Healthcare Foundation. She is the Medical Officer for Ohio Disaster Medical Assistance Team.

         She is a Cincinnati physician with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and chemistry from the University of Mississippi, a medical degree from Medical College of Ohio in Toledo in 1994, and master’s degree in public health obtained from Ohio State University in 2012. She is Board certified in Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine and Clinical Informatics, and she practices is several locations in the Cincinnati area. With a national reputation in Clinical Informatics, she consults all over America.

         She has a distinguished resume not only in the medical field, but also in her community service activities. She and her husband, William McKeithen are active members of MorningStar Baptist Church in Walnut Hills. She is founder and co-chair of the Health and Wellness Ministry at MorningStar.

Gabriel Taye is on the floor in the restroom at Carson Elementary School in West Price Hill following bullying by students. To view to 25-minnute video, go to https://www.cps-k12.org/news/whats-new/cincinnati-public-schools-releases-carson-school-video Photo from video provided by Cincinnati Public Schools

Each month, there are more than 16,000 children in the Greater Cincinnati area experiencing diaper need - the lack of a sufficient supply of diapers to remain clean, dry and healthy. To assist Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, a local Cincinnati organization, in providing diapers to low-income families while raising awareness of the basic health need for clean diapers, Rainbow Child Care Center locations throughout Cincinnati and northern Kentucky will be hosting a diaper drive.

From now through Mother’s Day, Rainbow Child Care families will be collecting diapers for all ages at their respective 20 area centers for families struggling to afford the six to 10 diapers a baby needs per day. The average cost of diapers for a baby per month is $70.

Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank provides diapers to social service organizations and government agencies that are helping families in crisis through comprehensive programs and services – ensuring the families that need diapers the most are the first ones receiving them.  

To find out more about how you can help, visit sweetcheeksdiaperbanks.org.

Tamaya Dennard. Provided

Tamaya Dennard awarded leadership development scholarship

Tracy Brumfield. Photo provided

Nefertiti Tickets - July 1, 2017

Dr. Robyn Chatman elected president of Ohio State Medical Association

Rainbow Child Care Centers collect diapers for families in crisis

The 2017 Nefertiti Awards Banquet, honoring extraordinary women, is on Saturday, July 1, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel in Covington (the hotel with the revolving restaurant). Come, enjoy the vendors, music, and honorees, and be inspired!

Wire services

Newly-crowned Miss USA Kara McCullough clarified her remarks on health care that had drawn ire on social media, saying she believes health care "should be a right" for all. McCullough called health care 'a privilege' during the recent competition.

"I am privileged to have health care and I do believe that it should be a right," McCullough, 25, said on "Good Morning America." "I hope and pray moving forward that health care is a right for all worldwide." She continued, "I just want people to see where I was coming from. Having a job, I have to look at health care like it is a privilege."

McCullough, a chemist at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, was crowned Miss USA 2017 on Sunday night.

When asked during the pageant if affordable health care is a right for all Americans, McCullough replied to host Julianne Hough, "I'm definitely going to say it's a privilege."

"As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs," she said at the time. "So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we're given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide."

McCullough said on "GMA" today that she was "not at all" surprised by the backlash she received online. "I believe that is what America is based on, like having opinions and views," she said. "But I would like to just take this moment to truly just clarify ... what I said."

McCullough also drew attention during the pageant when she revealed she prefers the term "equalism" to "feminism."

She explained, “One thing I'm going to say is though, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace."

McCullough, the daughter of a now-retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, was born in Naples, Italy, and also lived in Japan, South Korea and Hawaii before she made Washington, D.C., her home.

She said she hopes to travel the country and use her platform as Miss USA to help spark children's interest in science and math.

Dr. Robyn F. Chatman, of Cincinnati, was recently installed as the first Black president of the Ohio State Medical Association. Photo provided

Lewis Johnson, at right, at University of Cincinnati Commencement with UC President Neville Pinto. Photo by Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services

CPS Deputy Superintendent Laura Mitchell chosen to lead district

People’s Liberty, a philanthropic lab, focused on directly investing in individuals through funding and mentorship, recently announced the 2017 winners of the $100,000 Haile Fellowship Grant, Tamia Stinson and Tracy Brumfield.

The Haile Fellowship challenges two individuals to research, plan, implement, and present the results of a big idea that could change the community’s future. Fellows are supported with full access to People’s Liberty facility and connections to local and national networks and mentors, during and after the fellowship year.

            Since 2015, People’s Liberty has been bringing together civic-minded talent to accelerate the positive transformation of Greater Cincinnati. People’s Liberty invests directly in individuals through funding and mentorship, creating a new, replicable model for grant makers in other cities. This nationally-known philanthropic lab is powered by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation.   People’s Liberty’s marquee grant program is the Haile Fellowship which provides year-long civic sabbaticals for highly-motivated Greater Cincinnati residents.

            Tamia Stinson, 37, was born and raised in Cincinnati and attended The Ohio State University for a degree in Business Marketing and Fashion Merchandising. Tamia returned home following a Fashion Journalism program in the UK, moved downtown and quickly got involved in the community. Tamia helped launch Second Sunday, organized the first pop-up shop in OTR, co-hosted Final Friday events for makers and a number of other local projects (such as her ‘Creative City’ podcast) dedicated to highlighting Cincinnati’s creative community.

            Tamia plans to use her Fellowship year to create online, in-person, and printed tools to connect Cincinnati’s growing but disjointed and underutilized community of image makers. “Our community of talented photographers, stylists, hair & makeup artists, and designers need connections, exposure and work,’’ she said. Tamia will develop new ways for people to share opportunities and information about workshops and events. Her goal is to connect Cincinnati’s creative talent with those who can hire them.  

Tracy Brumfield, 50, ​ is a Cincinnati native with a background in communications, publishing, printing, and marketing...and a recovering addict. Because of her addiction, she has experienced incarceration, homelessness, and unemployment. Tracy survived the system and now works for a drug treatment facility and is a volunteer and mentor for individuals housed in the Hamilton County Justice Center.            Tracy will spend her Fellowship year researching how to reach those caught in the system she was once in. Her idea is to publish and distribute a monthly newspaper for the incarcerated population in Cincinnati (starting with the Hamilton County Justice Center), creating a unique forum for community leaders, public health officials, local law enforcement officials and other agencies to communicate directly with inmates, all while giving inmates a platform to submit questions, story ideas, articles, and requests for more detailed information. The goal is to provide valuable resource information that inmates might not otherwise have access to (such as drug treatment and detox facilities, overdose prevention, mental health agencies, housing options, Medicaid, Ohio Benefits Bank, employment info, etc.), as well as inspirational stories of hope and recovery. 

8 year old's mom not told about bullying before son's suicide

Members of the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education and the current superintendent stand with their new superintendent pick Laura Mitchell, front and center, immediately following their unanimous vote for her to take the district’s top position. From left are Carolyn Jones, Superintendent Mary Ronan, Melody Bates, Chris Nelms, Elisa Hoffman (in back), Board President Ericka Copeland-Dansby, Daniel Minera, and Eve Bolton. Photo by Dan Yount

Herald Staff

Carson Elementary School student Gabriel Taye, 8, who committed suicide two days after he fell in a school bathroom, told school staff he fainted and never told administrators he was bullied or hit, a school spokeswoman said.

Taye was captured on a 24-minute video falling to the floor outside a boy’s bathroom at Carson Elementary School in West Price Hill on January 24. Two days later, he hung himself in his bedroom with a necktie.

Cincinnati Public Schools officials said they weren’t aware of the incident outside the boy’s room until investigators asked to review it.

The district released the video of the incident on May 12. In the video, Taye walks into the restroom and reaches out to shake hands with another student. That student instead pulls Gabriel into the restroom wall, and Gabriel drops to the ground. The other student disappears. For more than six minutes, Gabriel does not move as other students poke, kick, touch or walk past his unmoving form. The assistant principal arrives more than 4 minutes later, and he is joined by other adults. They get Gabriel on his feet, and he walks away with them.

District officials said in a statement, “While we are concerned about the length of time that Gabriel lay motionless and the lack of adult supervision at the scene, when school administrators became aware of the situation, they immediately followed protocol by calling the school nurse to evaluate Gabriel. The school nurse checked Gabriel’s vital signs, which were normal.  She also contacted Gabriel’s mother and asked her to pick him up and take him to the hospital to be checked out.’’

District officials said that although the connection between this incident at school and Gabriel’s suicide are not clear, the District shared this video with police investigators at the time of the incident. Their investigation has concluded, and no charges were filed.

Cornelia Reynolds, the boy’s mother, said she got a call from the school to pick Gabriel up because he had fainted. She said the school did not tell her that her child had been assaulted. Later that night, he began vomiting. She took him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he was treated and released the next morning as a case of stomach flu. He stayed home from school that day but returned to Carson Elementary the next day. That evening, he hanged himself with his tie from his bunk bed.

In a statement released by the district Friday, school officials say it isn’t clear exactly what’s going on the moment he fell. “It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video,” she said.

Reynold’s attorneys claim the boy bullied Gabe, pushed him into a wall and knocked him out. They said school officials called to say Gabe needed to see a doctor. Reynolds took Gabe to a doctor, who said the boy had a stomach virus. He was dead two days later. Reynolds’ lawyers have said they didn’t find out about the encounter until they read a Cincinnati homicide detective’s email that mentioned it.

Reynolds said in a statement, “His life was not only stolen from him, but from those of us who expected to watch him grow up and enjoy life,” she said in a statement. “If I could, I would give anything to have him back. I feel he was cheated. I feel robbed. My only child, my best friend and my first true love isn't here with us physically but I know he's here in spirit.”

Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco has asked homicide detectives to determine whether the boy was bullied and if that played a role in his death. “It was very hard for me to believe that an 8-year-old would even know what it means to commit suicide,” she told local radio station WLW. Until the investigation is over, she said, his death would be ruled a homicide.

Parents demonstrated outside of Carson Elementary Friday morning, saying they are aware of other bullying incidents that have occurred at the school.

“I am my son’s voice, and it will be heard,” said Reynolds in her statement. “It is my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again. No, this will not go away. People need to know the truth and help fix this epidemic in our society by spreading awareness and speaking up.’’

Cincinnati Public Schools released the following statement about the incident:

“Our hearts are broken by the loss of this child, and our thoughts are with his parents and extended family. He was an outstanding young man, and this is a great loss for his family and our school community.

“To be completely transparent, we have uploaded the video, in its entirety, blurring out faces of the students who appear to protect their privacy.

“We ask that you review the video, in its entirety. It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video.

“Cincinnati Public Schools is reviewing with faculty and staff the procedures regarding adult supervision in the restrooms. We are committed to student safety and ensuring that all CPS schools foster a positive, learning environment.’’Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said his office has opened a review of Gabriel's death.

Miss USA Kara McCullough during the competition. Photo provided

OMESSP Minority Engineering Scholarship applications open

People’s Liberty announces winners of 2017 Haile Fellowships

NAACP says DOJ reversal on drug prosecutions to fuel mass incarceration and undermine public safety

Prices: $20 per ticket or $200 per table of 10. Vendor tables available for $25. TICKETS WILL WILL BE MAILED.

The University of Cincinnati bestowed its highest award, an honorary doctorate, to alumnus Lewis Johnson during the university’s April 29 Commencement ceremony. Johnson is a sports broadcaster, UC alumnus and member of the UC Athletic Hall of Fame. He received an Honorary Doctor of Letters.

As a Northwest Senior High School athlete in Cincinnati, Johnson ran the 400 meters for the Knights, graduating in 1982 with a best of 51.5 for the 400-meter race. However, with that time he did not qualify for the state track meet. Johnson’s father encouraged him to head to his hometown school, the University of Cincinnati, and for the first two years did not participate in athletics. The previous record holder and his good friend in high school, Doug Wiesman, now a captain in the Cincinnati Police Department, talked him into going out for the UC track team, which he did in 1985.

During his first two years at UC, Johnson ran 400 meters for the Bearcats with a best of 48.90 in 1986. With one more year of eligibility, Johnson concluded that the 400 was too short, so he switched to the 800-meter race, a wise decision. His senior indoor season in 1987 was remarkable, with personal records of 1:02.68 for 500 meters, 1:10.64 for 600 yards, 2:09.16 over 1000 yards and 2:22.64 for 1000 meters. Thirty years later these marks stand as follows on the all-time UC list: 500 meters (first), 600 yards (second), 1000 yards (first) and 1000 meters (first). His three indoor school records still stand.

Johnson’s senior outdoor season was especially impressive as he specialized in the 800 meters, the sprint medley relay and the 4x400 meters relay. Johnson’s 800-meter time of 1:47.00 still stands as the UC record, as does his sprint medley relay mark of 3:16.44, which was fifth in the United States that year and highlighted by his stunning anchor leg of 1:45.8 at the Drake Relays. His 1985 4x400 relay mark of 3:09.93 lasted for 25 years and was just broken in 2010. He was second to Olympic Trials finalist, Ocky Clark, in the Metro Conference 800-meter final and his 4x400 team was Metro Conference champion. The best was yet to come as he earned All-American honors in 1987 for 800 meters with a time of 1:47.00 in Baton Rouge, good for seventh place. For many years, his 1:47.00 was the Ohio collegiate record.

Johnson qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis and it was there that an unexpected conversation in a hotel lobby, thanks to a close friend and fellow competitor Ken Washington, led him to meet two European international track meet organizers. One week later, Johnson received a call in his dorm room in Sawyer Hall, inviting him to come to Belgium for a race. Johnson’s family and friends helped him with resources to make the trip and a week later he raced in a small town outside of Brussels. Johnson credits that Indianapolis conversation, the trip to Belgium and the first international race for taking his life in a completely different direction forever.

Later that summer he was invited to train in Los Angeles as a member of the Santa Monica Track Club alongside American 800-meter record holder, Johnny Gray. Johnson returned to the Olympic Trials in 1992, reaching the semi-final round. He also returned to UC, earning his bachelor’s degree in communications. Johnson wrapped up his seven-year professional running career in Europe and other parts of the world in 1995. His running accomplishments earned him entrance into the University of Cincinnati Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

As illustrious as his collegiate athletic career was, Johnson has gained even more distinction as a network broadcaster of track and field as well as many other sports for several different broadcast companies. Johnson has worked nine consecutive Olympic Games as an announcer for NBC, starting with the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002, 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Torino Winter Olympics in 2006, 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and the London 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2014 he covered the Sochi Winter Olympics, returning to Russia two weeks later to work his first Paralympic Games. Doing the same in 2016, Johnson worked trackside at the Rio Summer Games, covering Usain Bolt of Jamaica and his historic Olympic finish, then returning for the Paralympic events in Brazil. For the Winter Games, Johnson typically works as the reporter at the bobsled, luge and skeleton venue.

He often shares the story of his devastating disappointment in not being able to make the U.S. Olympic track team in 1988 and 1992, having long dreamed of and worked hard for that honor, but that his Olympic dream actually came true in another way as an NBC Olympic broadcaster in 2000 — a very emotional and fulfilling accomplishment.

Immediately after covering his first Olympics in Sydney in 2000, Johnson was tapped to join the network’s coverage of the NBA on NBC, once interviewing San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker in French during a 2002 NBA playoff telecast. For five seasons, he was a sideline reporter for Notre Dame football with Tom Hammond and Pat Haden, and has been a part of myriad events for NBC for the last 18 years.

In many ways, Johnson is the face of U.S. track and field coverage, as his trackside interviews of winners and losers is what you see and hear after each event concludes. He is a regular on nearly every American track and field broadcast, including long-distance events like New York and Boston Marathons, collegiate meets and conference championships, domestic and international track and field events, as well as World Championships and Olympic Games.

His philosophy entails a belief in detailed preparation for every event he covers, and diligent work to earn the trust and respect of athletes from many sports across the world, which gives him the opportunity to offer the viewers an authentic insight into the athletes with whom he speaks in their greatest moments of triumph or biggest disappointments, on the smallest to the biggest global sports stages.

Johnson continues his career with NBC Sports and Olympics, and is contracted to work through the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. He recently completed a new agreement with the Pac-12 Network to cover college football, basketball and some track and field. Johnson just finished another edition of the March Madness College Basketball Tournament with CBS and Turner Sports and is currently in the middle of the working another NBA Playoffs series for Turner Sports.

Johnson is currently working on his first book that will be titled, “Get Your Gold, Win or Lose.”

Johnson was one of two recipients of honorary degrees at April Commencement. Former UC president and current Chancellor of the State University of New York Nancy Zimpher received the other award.

By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Mayor John Cranley intervened in court Tuesday to stop Black community activist Rev. Peterson Mingo from being sentenced to jail time for a building code violation.

Mingo, a pastor at Christ Temple Baptist Church, was arrested and charged with a failing to fix a broken retaining wall on his property in the 2400 block of Trimble Street in Evanston on September 2016. Mingo entered a compliance agreement with the City in that he would check in with a court regularly to update authorities on the progress of the requested repairs.

"Generally, the finding of guilt is extinguished once the condition is brought into compliance," according to a memo from City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething

Records list hearings in November and December 2016 as well as January, February, March and April 2017 that passed without apparent incident.

However, something went wrong at Tuesday's hearing. Judge Bernie Bouchard, who oversees the county’s Housing Court docket, sentenced Mingo to 100 days of house arrest, but then lessened the sentence to 90 days in jail.

Boggs Muething and Cranley met Judge Bouchard at the courthouse and prevailed upon the judge to reconsider the escalation of the case with criminal charges. Bouchard then ruled that Mingo had until his next compliance hearing to bring the wall up to code.

City Manager Harry Black wrote in a memo later that day that he was working with Mingo to find a solution before Bouchard's deadline. "I have spoken and met with Pastor Mingo to ensure he has the resources necessary to remedy this real estate situation as quickly as possible," Black wrote.

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said she and other members of Cincinnati's Black community had met with an assistant city manager months ago and attempted to help Mingo She claimed they were told the situation had been handled, and that there was no danger of the housing court escalating Mingo's situation.

       “The actions today concerning Pastor Mingo are outrageous and unnecessary. We raised this issue months ago and were assured by the City Administration that this would not happen. The possibility that anyone could be arrested for failure to make a home repair is preposterous. That this has and could happen to any homeowner is a failure of this administration that needs to be corrected immediately,” she said. 

       Mingo said the controversy could have been avoided if City officials had not “lied’’ to the judge. When he appeared in court, Bouchard asked the City’s prosecutor if work on repairing the wall had begun, and the answer was no. Mingo says it had started, but the recent rains delayed the work. He added he had a good working relationship with the previous inspector who understood the repairs were being made, he said. Meanwhile, a new inspector had been appointed to his case.

         Rev. Thomas Hargis of the Jubilee Project, which comes to the aid of homeowners with code enforcement issues, has been working with Mingo. “Nobody should have to go to jail over a code enforcement issue’’ Hargis said. “A lot of homeowners do not have thousands of dollars for home repairs, and we do not live in a society that has debtor prisons.’’

       Mingo says he has received many phone calls about the situation, and some contractors have called to say they would repair his wall at no cost to him.

       Mingo just recently was recognized by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Fraternal Order of Police for his work in Cincinnati inner city neighborhoods in helping reduce the gun violence.       Rev. Hargis is correct about debtor prisons, but The Cincinnati Herald next week will feature an article about a Mount Auburn man, a retired firefighter, who did go to jail, was forced to wear an electronic tracking device, and is out thousands of dollars in a battle with the City’s code enforcement officials for a situation caused by the city. No City officials came to his aid.

BALTIMORE, MD - The NAACP released the following statement regarding the DOJ’s decision to promote the use of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes:

The decision by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions requiring federal prosecutors to pursue the most severe charges possible, regardless of whether they would expose low-level offenders to mandatory minimums, represents not only a threat to public safety, but exacerbates mass incarceration.

This decision by DOJ to overturn previous Justice Department guidance will lead to thousands of people spending unnecessary years of imprisonment while doing nothing to advance public safety. 

"The Attorney General's directive suggests that this long ugly era of mass incarceration now has eternal life. Contradicting commonsense, conscience, and experience of red and blue state governors, this new policy takes us quickly backward,” said NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.

Earlier DOJ Guidance that discouraged the federal prosecution of low-level drug offenders resulted in a 14percent drop in federal prosecution of drug cases and a focus on more serious offenses and more dangerous offenders.  Since reaching its historic peak in 2013, reforms in drug prosecution and sentencing as well as the Obama administration’s clemency initiative led to a significant decrease in the federal prison population, which had dropped 14 percent (to 188,800) by April 2017. The Sessions memo essentially guarantees a larger federal prison population, ensuring that money that would be better used on preventing crime will be spent imprisoning people who are no risk to the communities.

The memo takes us back to the “War on Drugs” mentality that has led to our current age of mass incarceration, making the US the world leader in the number of people incarcerated.  The racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration have led to the devastation of African American families and communities. 

The NAACP is not ready to move backward.  We must work to dismantle our system of mass incarceration, instead of exacerbating the problem.  We will not allow the Attorney General to turn the clock back on federal criminal justice reform.