City of Cincinnati Releases Council Emails

The city released emails sent between various combinations of five Democratic council members in connection with a lawsuit over open meetings violations.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

The City of Cincinnati today released roughly 300 pages of emails sent between various combinations of five Cincinnati City Council members. 

The release of the emails comes as part of a settlement for a lawsuit brought by conservative activist Mark Miller, who sued the city over text messages between the five that violated Ohio's open meetings laws.

Council members Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young texted about their plans to respond to a stalemate between Mayor John Cranley and Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black. Cranley wanted Black removed, but council refused to approve his firing over concerns about his settlement package and questions about the reasons for his dismissal. 

The city released the text messages sent among all five last year, and earlier this month released texts sent between any two or more of the council members. Those texts sometimes discuss city business, and other times veer off into personal discussions about various colleagues and issues. You can read more about the texts here. You can read the emails released today here. 

Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert Ruehlman March 7 signed off on a settlement in which the City of Cincinnati will pay $101,000 to Miller and his attorney over text messages sent among five members of Cincinnati City Council in violation of Ohio's open meetings laws. That included a $1,000 fine for the open meetings violation, a $10,000 fine because Young deleted some of his messages and $90,000 in attorneys fees to the Finney Law Firm, which represented Miller.

Council members at the center of the drama say that, while they made a mistake texting between themselves, the lawsuit by Miller — a member of Republican-aligned Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes — and the attendant uproar over their actions is overblown and politically-motivated.

CityBeat is currently analyzing the content of the emails released today. Like the text messages, the emails also discuss Black's firing, along with FC Cincinnati's West End stadium, the streetcar, political tussles over tent cities that popped up last summer and a number of other pieces of city business. Few if any are between all five council members, however.

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