Cracking the FOP's Secrets

As has become the norm during the last few election cycles, Cincinnati's police union is reluctant to publicly reveal its full slate of endorsements, for some strange reason. No matter: CityBeat managed to get this year's information.

Working through multiple sources at different campaigns, we've compiled what we believe to be an all-inclusive list of endorsements made by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Queen City Lodge No. 69.—-

The FOP endorsed seven candidates for City Council, only three of whom are incumbents. The incumbents getting the nod are Republicans Leslie Ghiz, Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn.

Also, the police union endorsed challengers Mike Allen, an independent who is a former police officer and county prosecutor; Charterite Kevin Flynn; Christopher Smitherman, president of the NAACP's local chapter; and Democrat Jason Riveiro.

Perhaps the most surprising facts about this list are that the FOP didn't endorse GOP incumbent Wayne Lippert, who's generally toed the same policy line as the other three Republicans; it didn't endorse Cecil Thomas or Wendell Young, two Democratic incumbents who had long careers as Cincinnati police officers before their retirement; and it did endorse Smitherman, who was a frequent, outspoken critic of the department during his sole previous council term, in 2003-05.

Multiple sources have confirmed that the FOP is using a pledge not to lay off any police officers as its litmus test in deciding on City Council endorsements. It's unclear, however, whether the pledge applies only to the current two-year term being sought (2011-13) or would apply to the entire eight consecutive years that a candidate potentially could serve, if reelected.

To avoid a $33 million deficit next year, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. proposed in August that City Council approve laying off 44 officers. So far, council has been divided on the issue.

Spending in the Police and Fire departments account for 69 percent of the city's General Fund budget. During the past several years, all other city departments have experienced cuts in funding, but the Police and Fire departments have seen their budgets increase.

One council candidate, who interviewed for an endorsement but didn't receive it, said, “It was very apparent in the interview that because I wouldn't commit to never ever laying off a police officer — not just in a two-year term, but for a possible eight-year stretch on council — they weren't going to endorse me.”

That candidate added, “As I told them, I'm running to make sure we don't lose another 10 percent of our population in the next 10 years. But, if we do, do they really want us to become a city that only pays for police officers at the expense of everything else? That's totally unrealistic.”

Still, another candidate who did receive the FOP's endorsement had a different impression. “They didn't asked me to pledge that but I told them that I was not in favor of layoffs,” that person said.

Additionally, Thomas and Young didn't seek the union's endorsement.

“My loyalty is to the city of Cincinnati, not just the Police Department,” Young said during a candidate forum Saturday night at The Greenwich in Walnut Hills. “I have to do what's best for the city as a whole.”

Also, the FOP is recommending a “no” vote on Issue 2, which would repeal the restrictions imposed on the collective-bargaining rights of public sector labor unions.

Further, the union is endorsing incumbents Lisa Allen, Bernie Bouchard, Brad Greenberg, Russell Mock and Fanon Rucker, along with challengers Brian Lee, William Mallory Jr. and Megan Shanahan, in their respective municipal court judicial races.

In related news, the Partnership of Westside Residents PAC — commonly known as POWR-PAC — has decided not to make any endorsements in this year's council elections.

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