Vice Mayor Alicia Reece and council members Christopher Smitherman and Laketa Cole aired their displeasure June 23 at the complete dearth of minority-owned businesses among the vendors inside the renovated Findlay Market.
The city, which has poured $17 million into the market's renovation, just turned operation of the market over to a private nonprofit organization. The Corporation for Findlay Market, Inc. will rent the property for $1 for the next five years — an amount $188,729 a year below the fair market rent.
The Corporation for Findlay Market responded to the council members' concern with a contrite letter June 25, assuring it was "in full agreement regarding the need for diversity at the Market.
"The 'old' Findlay Market was operating at capacity — there was little opportunity for minority or female-owned businesses to capture space in the Market," wrote H.C. "Buck" Niehoff, president of the corporation's board of trustees.
He promised the corporation will hook up with the African-American Chamber of Commerce. It will also share office space with Smart Money Community Services, working with its "build your own business" program to groom new vendors. In addition, the corporation's board is discussing a collaboration with the University of Cincinnati to develop a program to "jump-start micro enterprise, a significant source of employment for women and minorities," according to Niehoff.
The corporation is also working to "create a staff that is reflective of the community," he wrote.
"That is not to say, of course, that we have all the answers," the letter said.
"We would welcome a closer working relationship with you so that we — and the market and the community — can benefit from your demonstrable passion and expertise on this topic."
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Before breaking for summer June 30, council members presented policies for inclusion in next year's budget.
John Cranley and David Pepper want to keep council's commitment to add 75 police officers.
Cranley, Pepper and Reece want to protect safety, fire, garbage collection, road repair and pavement, maintenance of green spaces, health care centers and recycling from budget cuts.
Cranley wants to balance the budget by "cutting waste, improving efficiency, cutting services not normally provided by cities, and if necessary, reducing upper and middle management."
Smitherman wants every firehouse to have a restroom for women. He also wants to set aside part of the $4.5 million the city spends on social programs to deal with black-on-black crime.
Councilman Pat DeWine wants the city to hire independent contractors to review the efficiency of every city department, as well as all independent boards and commissions whose budgets council approves.
Smitherman wants the city to "take measures to control the city's cost of health care." The wording of that request had been amended from the original "negotiate a higher employee participation in health care benefits."
Smitherman wants the Cincinnati Recreation Commission to keep recreation centers and pools in the empowerment zone open three hours longer during summer days, again drawing from city funding for social programs. DeWine, Pepper, Jim Tarbell and Cranley voted against that resolution, but it passed anyway.
A resolution to allocate more money for youth summertime employment also passed June 30, in spite of DeWine's objection.
A resolution to maintain the current property tax rollback passed despite objections from Tarbell and David Crowley.
A resolution to reintroduce managed competition for city services failed 5-4. Support from DeWine, Sam Malone, Pepper and Cranley wasn't enough to override the opposition to managed competition, which Mayor Charlie Luken denounced in this year's State of the City address.
All The News That Fits: Leads, entrails and tales we couldn't get to.