Hello all. Let’s do some news real quick-like.
Mayor John Cranley yesterday delayed a Cincinnati City Council vote on a severance package for City Manager Harry Black, citing a lack of votes to support the $423,000 deal. That agreement between Black and the city could end a grinding stalemate that erupted over controversy within the Cincinnati Police Department. But five Democrat city councilmembers — Wendell Young, P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Tamaya Dennard — oppose the deal. They say taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for Cranley and Black’s feud.
“Show me a valid reason to dismiss the city manager," Young said during yesterday’s council meeting. Young and the rest of the council majority say Black shouldn't get a payout if he committed a fireable offense. If he didn't, Young says, he should stay on.
But supporters of the agreement say it’s time for council and the city to let Black loose. The city manager has agreed to take the buyout and move on, Cranley and council members David Mann, Amy Murray, Jeff Pastor and Christopher Smitherman say, and council shouldn’t stand in the way.
Republican Pastor in particular lit into council Democrats, calling them hypocrites for talking about fiscal responsibility when they agreed to the $250,000 buyout of former City Manager Milton Dohoney when Cranley came into office.
“Fiddlesticks to my fiscal friends," he said.
Cranley, for his part, says he’s working to address some of the racial tensions reportedly within CPD that played a part in the ongoing turmoil, meeting with the Sentinels black police association and other groups involved. He also acknowledged reports from experts the city tapped to review its implementation of the Collaborative Agreement which suggests the city isn’t following many elements of those police reforms.
The mayor expressed “concern” over those reports but also said that CPD Chief Eliot Isaac believes the reports didn’t completely capture the department’s commitment to the agreement.
• The Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education passed a resolution yesterday that amends slightly its ask of FC Cincinnati if the team wants to build a stadium on the current site of the district’s Stargel Stadium in the West End. Previously, the district said the team must pay the equivalent of the taxes it would owe under the city’s 1999 commercial abatement practices — roughly $2 million a year on a $250 million stadium. That was a deal-breaker, the team said. However, the new resolution leaves a little bit of wiggle room: It allows a third party such as the city to make up the difference in taxes and also is worded in such a way that, should the stadium appraise for less than $250 million, the team would pay less.
Board members framed the resolution as a message about future property tax abatements more broadly and had some harsh words for a city government that hasn’t had much of a hand in current negotiations.
“By taking a stand with this resolution, we are taking a stand on future developments as well and not setting a bad precedent,” board member Melanie Bates said.
• Meanwhile, FCC General Manager Jeff Berding acknowledged yesterday in a Cincinnati Business Courier article that the team isn’t totally ruling out the West End, but that it is focused more intently on Oakley and Newport unless a better deal can be reached with CPS and community groups. In that article, Berding also doubled down on a claim that community coalition West End United leader Alexis Kidd set a price of $50 million for a necessary community benefits agreement in the neighborhood. West End United representatives have denied this in public statements and at community events, saying they haven’t finished in engaging the community and drawing up a proposal yet.
• Here’s one more interesting bit to chew on around FCC: If a nonprofit group pays for the dues necessary for residents to vote in a community council meeting, are those votes invalid? The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless paid for 102 memberships for people wanting to vote at the last West End Community Council meeting. Community Council president Keith Blake has expressed frustration with the group, which he says has been working since February to influence the outcome of discussions there. But Blake also said that he “honestly doesn’t believe” the payment of dues by the coalition influenced the community council’s 50-10 vote Tuesday in opposition to the stadium. Seven people, including one whose residency in the West End is in question, voted after their dues were paid by the coalition, Blake says.
• A Sedamsville landlord is the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging sexual harassment filed yesterday. According to U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman, property manager John Klosterman has violated the Fair Housing Act by making unwanted sexual remarks toward tenants, offering to reduce or eliminate rent in return for sexual favors and other illegal behaviors. CityBeat first reported allegations against Klosterman in January 2017.
• Finally, Republican gubernatorial hopeful and current Attorney General Mike DeWine has tapped a big name in local politics to stump for him, and it probably signals a swing to the right on immigration. Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, an outspoken and controversial figure in national anti-immigration politics, has been stumping for DeWine in Cincinnati. He, as well as Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, have endorsed DeWine in his bid to replace term-limited Gov. John Kasich. DeWine is currently battling it out with Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor in the Republican primary. Among DeWine’s tough new immigration talk he seems to have picked up from Jones: promising to eliminate so-called sanctuary cities in Ohio if he’s elected governor.