Best Of 2020

Best Reason to Put Down Your Smartphone: Gang of Five Lawsuit

Stay with us here. Two years ago, Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black was in the process of getting fired by the mayor. So five members of Cincinnati City Council — P.G. Sittenfeld, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, Tamaya Dennard and Wendell Young — texted among themselves about their plan to address the situation. That’s a majority of council talking with each other outside a public meeting, which, it turns out, is against Ohio’s open meetings laws. Under pressure, the City of Cincinnati released some of those messages, and a conservative activist sued to get others. They revealed some petty name-calling and some chatter about city business. The result: a $200 fine for each council member plus a $10,000 fine for one accused of deleting his messages. The biggest expense, though: a whopping $90,000 in legal fees to the law firm representing the conservative activist. Oops.