Morning News: Multiple complaints over pay raise ordinance; FOP asks for more money to wear body cams; Ky. Dems decry perceived Bevin overreach

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black recently filed a complaint with the Ohio State Employee Relations Board against Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police.

click to enlarge Mayor John Cranley announcing his plan to boost wages for unionized city employees
Mayor John Cranley announcing his plan to boost wages for unionized city employees

Hey all. It never fails — you take one day off work to help a friend move and everyone in the city decides to do something newsworthy. We’ll dive right in in just a second. But before we do, I have a little gift for you, my beloved readers. Especially you Blink 182 fans. You’re welcome.

OK, but for real. Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black recently filed a complaint with the Ohio State Employee Relations Board against Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police, saying that the union wasn’t bargaining with the city in good faith and has released confidential information in public statements made via radio and social media. The dispute is the latest in an ongoing saga around Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s proposal to raise wages for city union employees outside the city’s usual collective bargaining process. Some of the city’s unions had already bargained with the city and agreed to lower wage boosts than the ones Cranley is offering. Supporters point out that many unionized city workers have had scant pay increases since the Great Recession. Detractors, including some on Cincinnati City Council and City Manager Black, believe Cranley’s move — which creates and ordinance requiring a 14 percent pay increase for some 6,000 city workers over the next three years — circumvents the city’s collective bargaining process and might be against state law.

• The city manager wasn’t the only person taking shots at the wage raise ordinance, which Council will vote on next month. Councilman Wendell Young filed a complaint about unfair labor practices with the employee relations board against Cranley himself. Young bashed the mayor’s move in a news conference yesterday, even as he admitted it was unclear whether he had the legal standing to file the complaint as a council member. Young is a former police officer and head of Cincinnati black police union The Sentinels. In his news conference yesterday, he said he supports higher wages for city employees but has grave worries about the precedent set by Cranley’s move, which he claims could erode collective bargaining rights for city workers.

• Speaking of the FOP, the police union has drawn a hard line in the sand regarding the city’s new body camera program until its officers get paid more to wear them. An attorney for Cincinnati’s FOP sent the city a cease and desist letter after last week’s body camera program unveiling, requesting the city sideline the program until negotiations are complete that would stipulate that officers wearing the cameras are paid more for doing so. The union’s attorney says wearing the body cameras means officers will have several additional duties and responsibilities, and that those additional tasks should be reflected in a new contract currently being negotiated between the city and police. However, City Manager Black says he believes the program can be implemented without a new contract and also notes that the union had much advance warning that the cameras were being implemented. He’s standing his ground on the issue.

• In case you hadn’t heard: There was an accident involving the streetcar, which is still in testing phases, yesterday downtown. A car at Third and Main streets made an illegal turn on a red light, pulling out in front of the streetcar. The driver was taken to the hospital, and her condition is unknown. The streetcar operator was unhurt but underwent mandatory drug and alcohol testing per city policy.

• The Cincinnati Exchange Project will continue its work distributing sterile syringes and health information to heroin addicts from a rental vehicle following the arrest of the program’s manager on misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charges. Elizabeth Harrison was arrested by Norwood Police Aug. 8 after she was found asleep on the side of the road with a needle cap and other materials related to heroin use. Harrison has hypoglycemia and says she pulled over after her blood sugar dropped dangerously low. Cincinnati Exchange Project says Harrison and others have been running the program out of their personal vehicles, which accounts for the materials found in Harrison’s car. The program was temporarily suspended as the program sought the repair of its official van, but will continue with the rental van.

• Kentucky Democrats are up in arms over a $500,000 contract awarded to a law firm by Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin to investigate his predecessor, Democrat former Gov. Steve Beshear. Bevin and supporters of the contract say it’s necessary to root out what may be millions in contracts awarded to the governor’s friends and political benefactors. But opponents of the move say it’s a huge abuse of the governor’s power and that the law firm selected, Taft, Stettinius and Hollister, is home to a number of prominent Republican operatives. They wonder why the Kentucky State Police or the Federal Bureau of Investigation couldn’t look into Bevin’s claims that Beshear’s administration was corrupt in its dealings with state contracts.

• Finally, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was in Youngstown yesterday, where he… surprise… had some things to say about immigrants. Trump wants “extreme vetting” of immigrants trying to come to the United States, he said, and would temporarily block immigrants entirely from troubled regions. Trump also said that he would focus on destroying terrorism should he win the Oval Office, and said that he would seek greater partnership with America’s rival Russia in this quest. It’s not the first time Trump has made gestures toward the Kremlin and Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Critics say the presidential hopeful is uncomfortably close with the dictator and question ties between the country and Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Recent reports show Manafort received payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine from 2007 to 2012. Russia has sought to extend its influence in the country, meddling with elections, taking financial assets and other aggressive acts.