Ohio Auditor Takes over School District Facing $11 Million Deficit

Keith Faber

State Auditor Keith Faber placed a southwest Ohio school district in fiscal emergency Friday after it projected an operating fund deficit of nearly $11 million.

A fiscal analysis by the Auditor of State’s Local Government Services Section certified a projected operating deficit of $10.8 million for the Mt. Health City School District in Hamilton County, near Cincinnati. The figure represents 26% of the district’s general revenue funds for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

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Yost Agrees Six-Week Abortion Ban Unconstitutional, Other Provisions Not

Attorney General Dave Yost

A Hamilton County judge now must decide on parts of Ohio’s heartbeat law after Attorney General Dave Yost agreed the law banning nearly all abortions is unconstitutional.

In court filings, Yost said Ohio’s 2019 law that banned most abortions in the state was unconstitutional after voters guaranteed the right to an abortion in the state’s constitution in November.

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Tennessee Senate Approves Adding Hamilton County to ESA/Voucher Program

A bill to add Hamilton County schools to Tennessee’s pilot education savings account program was approved by the Senate on Thursday and is scheduled to be discussed in House committee next week.

Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, explained Hamilton County was taken out of the original pilot as the school district put an additional $20 million in funding into the district’s schools and hired a new superintendent, but that has not solved the district’s issues.

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Ohio County Democratic Auditor Comes Out Against U.S. Senate Candidacy of Tim Ryan

A Cincinnati-area Democratic public official is urging Ohioans to vote against his party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Supporters of Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance and critics of Democratic hopeful Tim Ryan are enthusiastically sharing an opinion piece Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes (D) penned for The Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday. In the guest column, Rhodes calls Ryan “a fraud who must be defeated” and who “does not deserve your vote” irrespective of one’s party affiliation. 

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Some in Hamilton County Fear Civil Service System Will Go Too Far in Protecting Bureaucrats

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp (R) and others argue that the civil service measure recently passed by county commissioners bestows excessive protections on bureaucrats. 

The legislative body approved the policy and another resolution extending County Attorney Rheubin Taylor’s contract, which Wamp tried to terminate earlier this month. The civil-service resolution would require a dismissal of a protected county staffer to undergo review by a special commission. 

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Hamilton County Mayor and Commissioners Clash over Removal of County Attorney

The Hamilton County, Tennessee Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously acted to continue the jurisdiction’s relationship with County Attorney Rheubin Taylor.

In so doing, the legislative body countermanded Mayor Weston Wamp’s (R) decision against reappointing Taylor to the job. Following the commissioners’ meeting, Wamp held a press conference to address the uncertain status of the county lawyer. He expressed displeasure with the commissioners’ actions which took place after they sought the advice of outside legal counsel to determine how to keep Taylor on staff. 

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Judge Grants Injunction Against Ohio Abortion Law

On Friday, the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas sided with Ohio abortionists in granting a preliminary injunction against a law forbidding termination of pregnancies in cases when the unborn child has a detectible heartbeat.

Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the Heartbeat Act in 2019, though the statute could only take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision this June. Judge Christian Jenkins (D) placed a freeze on the law pending a determination. The state of Ohio is expected to appeal the injunction.

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Hold on Ohio Abortion Restriction to Last at Least Two More Weeks

Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Christian Jenkins (D) this week indicated he will extend his hold on a significant Ohio abortion-restricting law for two additional weeks. 

Jenkins’s decision prolongs the effect of a decision he made last week to obstruct the Heartbeat Act’s implementation, with the initial freeze to last two weeks. The state General Assembly passed and Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the bill (SB 23) in 2019. The legislation, which prohibits aborting unborn children who have detectable heartbeats, could not take effect until this year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. 

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Hamilton County Judge Temporarily Halts Ohio Abortion Restriction

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Christian A. Jenkins this week imposed a two-week suspension on the Ohio law banning abortions for women whose unborn children have detectable heartbeats. 

Effectively, the statute, known as the “Heartbeat Law,” generally prohibits terminating pregnancies that have gone on for longer than six weeks. Governor Mike DeWine (R) signed the legislation in 2019 but agencies could not enforce it until this year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion nationwide. 

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Report Says Tennessee Schools Spent COVID-19 Funds on Unrelated Projects

A new report by the Beacon Center of Tennessee says that $4 billion worth of federal COVID-19 relief funding allocated to Tennessee’s school systems was largely spent on items unrelated to COVID-19. 

“The data suggests that Tennessee public schools have budgeted or spent millions of dollars on areas that had little to nothing to do with COVID or student performance,” said Beacon Research Associate and report author Jason Edmonds. “School districts across the state budgeted tens of millions of dollars for ‘indirect costs’ without any further explanation and also funded pet projects such as walk-in coolers and retractable bleachers.”

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I-75 in Hamilton County Set to Be Reduced Down to Two Lanes for One Month Beginning August 1st

I-75 to Chattanooga

The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced that beginning Monday, August 1st at 9:00 p.m. ET, I-75 in Hamilton County will be reduced to two lanes in each direction for one month from mile marker 7 (near the Bonny Oaks Drive exit) to mile marker 10 (between the Volkswagen Drive exit and the Ooltewah exit). The lane closures come as the interstate is undergoing repair for damaged concrete slabs, bridge repairs, and new pavement markings.

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Four Inmates Escape from Chattanooga Jail, All Recaptured

After four inmates successfully escaped from a Chattanooga jail, a Tennessee sheriff’s office says that they have all been peacefully taken into custody. 

“Within 24 hours of the reported escape, all four inmates were taken back into custody due to the exhaustive and extensive investigation conducted by [Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office] personnel and our federal and local partners. I am extremely proud of the efforts of our personnel who have worked tirelessly throughout the day to ensure the swift apprehension of these four wanted fugitives was accomplished,” said HCSO Chief Deputy Austin Garrett.

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Weston Wamp’s Campaign for Hamilton County Mayor Could Attract Votes from Democrats

Hamilton County mayoral candidate Weston Wamp’s stance on former President Donald Trump could help Wamp attract votes from county Democrats.

This, according to a Saturday opinion piece that cited a recent Tennessee Star article about Wamp.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press published the column and said Wamp “spends a lot of time talking about national issues.”

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Hamilton County Mayoral Candidate Weston Wamp’s Tweets Show Enormous Distaste for Donald Trump’s Brand of GOP

Weston Wamp, son of former Tennessee Republican Congressman Zach Wamp, is running for mayor of Hamilton County, and his past tweets reveal an intense dislike and even a resistance to former President Donald Trump. In more than one tweet, Weston Wamp denied that Trump is a conservative. In another post, Wamp warned that Trump, as president, would likely derail the national economy and spark a recession. In another post, Wamp predicted that the former president would demolish the Republican Party.

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United States Department of Justice Awards Grants Hamilton County Schools $260,000 Under the STOP School Violence Act

The United States Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Tennessee on Thursday announced Hamilton County Schools would receive a $266,314 grant under the Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing School Violence Act (STOP) School Violence Act. The grant is a part of a more than $125 million nationwide program aimed to help keep schools safe.

“The Justice Department has no greater responsibility than protecting Americans from harm,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. 

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Shelby and Hamilton Counties Use Same Bail Calculation Tool That Left-Leaning Philanthropist Designed for Waukesha, Wisconsin

Officials in two Tennessee counties, Shelby and Hamilton, use a bail calculation tool for criminal defendants that is also used in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Waukesha is where suspect Darrell Brooks Jr. faces homicide charges for using his car to kill six people at a recent holiday gathering. Prosecutors handling a previous case of physical abuse and vehicular assault involving Brooks asked a court to set bail bond for the defendant at a mere $1,000. Court officials agreed.

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New Construction Career School Breaks Ground in Hamilton County

A new construction vocational facility for high school students and adults broke ground in Hamilton County on Thursday. Next week, workers will officially begin the building process of the Construction Career Center in Chattanooga’s Avondale neighborhood.

The old, vacant Mary Ann Garber School at 2225 Roanoke Avenue in Chattanooga is being renovated in order to house the new college-level vocational training center for 11th and 12th-grade students as well as adults in the community.

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Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Calls for Universal Masking, Appeals to Parents to Choose to ‘Keep Our Students Safe’

Young girl with brown hair wearing black mask

Hamilton County Schools says it is struggling struggling to control COVID-19 as the delta variant continues to drive cases. This has prompted the public school district that operates 41 elementary schools, 21 middle schools, and 22 high schools in the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County School to ask all students to wear a mask. Some schools in the district have been closed altogether.

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Tennessee Labor Department Offering English Literacy, Civics Education Grant for Hamilton County Immigrants – No Proof of Legal Status Required

Tennessee’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) is offering grants to educate Hamilton County immigrants in English literacy and civics. However, TDLWD confirmed with The Tennessee Star that it won’t be requiring proof of legal status for participation. TDLWD hasn’t required proof for nearly two years. The department explained that its Adult Education Division made the change to align with federal regulations concerning the program. The only requirements for immigrants who participate in the program are that they are over 16 years old, not enrolled in secondary school, and classified as an English language learner.

Hamilton County drew significant attention over the last few months after it was discovered that the Biden Administration was driving and flying unaccompanied migrant children into Chattanooga. Several weeks ago, followup reports emerged that these children were potentially enduring abuse at their holding facilities. Around the same time, one teenage boy went missing from the Chattanooga facility.

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Ohio in the ‘Yellow Zone’ Accounting to White House Task Force Report

Ohio is in the “yellow zone” for coronavirus cases, according to a White House Coronavirus Task Force report that presents a list of suggested actions.

The July 14 report is available here. The Ohio data begins on Page 246.

The classification means Ohio had between 10 to 100 new cases per 100,000 residents the week before the report was released, and the yellow zone for test positivity, indicating a rate between 5 percent to 10 percent.

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Hamilton County Residents Get Robocalls About ‘White Privilege’

  Hamilton County residents are reportedly getting robocalls that warn the local public school district has a liberal agenda. Issues of “white privilege” and the school district’s recent efforts to teach local educators about the matter were reportedly mentioned on the call. This, according to the Chattanooga-based News Channel 9. The station’s website reported no one knows who is behind these efforts. “Some parents and teachers say the underlying message is spreading lies about public schools in Hamilton County,” according to the station’s website. “Both the robocall and survey refer to concerns expressed in a social media post, showing slides from a professional development seminar discussing racism and white privilege.” A 26-question survey, among other things poses questions about race and white privilege, the station reported. “UnifiEd has published and distributed a report that suggests that many of Hamilton County Schools remain intentionally segregated and imply that these same schools are failing because of white privilege and racism. Do you strongly agree somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree?” News Channel 9 quoted the poll as asking. “Are you aware of the controversy involving the presentation to Hamilton County Opportunity Zone teachers that referred to ‘white privilege’? Do you think this…

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Hamilton County Commission’s Defeat of 34-Cent Property Tax Increase Leaves Teachers with ‘Defeated Faces,’ Disappoints School Board Member’s Dog

  A split Hamilton County Commission voted 5-4 Wednesday against a 34-cent increase on property taxes for the school system, and one school board member reacted by saying his dog was disappointed in the outcome. Voting against were Greg Martin, Randy Fairbanks, Chester Bankston, Tim Boyd and Sabrena Smedley (pictured above), according to a story by The Chattanoogan. In favor were Chip Baker, Katherlyn Geter, Warren Mackey and David Sharpe. County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said the rejection means none of the budget will be approved until the schools come back with a new budget leaving out the requested $34 million in new funds, The Chattanoogan said. That will happen after the Hamilton County Department of Education meets again. The county commission has until Aug. 31 to approve the overall budget, according to a story by the Chattanooga Times Free Press. County Mayor Jim Coppinger’s proposed $819 million budget included $443 million for the school district’s general purpose budget, a 5 percent raise for teachers, plus the addition of 14 counselors, 15 social workers, 15 truancy officers, 11 art teachers, 10 special education teachers and 32 special education assistants, the newspaper said. News Channel 9 said teachers were disappointed. Teachers filed…

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Hamilton County Mayor Seeks 34 Cent Property Tax Hike to Hire 350 School System Personnel That One Board Member Says Are Unneeded

  Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger on Tuesday presented a budget that includes a 34-cent property tax increase for the school system, The Chattanoogan reported. The proposed budget does not include any increase for the county general budget, the publication said. Coppinger had previously talked about including 15 cents for that portion of the budget, for a 49-cent increase. The proposed tax increase of 34 cents would cost the owner of a $100,000 house $85 per year, The Chattanoogan said. The proposed 17 percent property tax increase is meant to hire 350 positions for the school district, The Tennessee Star reported. Proposed new positions include counselors, graduation coaches, a data warehouse programmer, 15 truancy officers and more. School Board member Rhonda Thurman, a critic of the proposed bump in spending for the school system, recently told The Star that even if the 350 personnel do not help to raise test scores, they likely still will keep their jobs. “We never get rid of a program. All we do is keep adding on to them,” said Thurman, who said these positions are unneeded. Coppinger’s proposed budget is $819 million, a $65 million increase from the current year, with almost $60 million…

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Hamilton County Commissioners Warn Left-Wing Group UnifiEd Could Spread Influence Across Tennessee

  Depending upon whom you ask, the Chattanooga-based UnifiEd is either a harmless political group with no real clout or it’s one of Tennessee’s most far-left and dangerous organizations. Many people in Hamilton County believe UnifiEd members orchestrated a proposal to add 350 new positions to the county school system, at a cost of $34 million, and at taxpayer expense. As reported, many of those proposed positions are for social workers and new administrators. Most school board members voted for the plan, but county commissioners have the final say approving it. If they do so, they may have to raise property taxes. County Commissioner Tim Boyd told The Tennessee Star this week he doesn’t underestimate UnifiEd, nor will he take any chances on the threat he says members pose. “UnifiEd has a political agenda, and it is not to improve education in Hamilton County. It is to turn Hamilton County from bright red (politically) to dark blue,” Boyd said, adding he’s spent a lot of one-on-one time with UnifiEd members, and he knows them well. No one at UnifiEd’s Chattanooga office returned repeated requests for comment Friday. “The GOP locally keeps ignoring me screaming and hollering about them,” Boyd said…

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