Morning News: city manager subject of new lawsuit; West Side PAC takes aim at Simpson

The Partnership of Westside Residents Political Action Committee is sending last-minute mailers slamming Simpson for her vote on Cincinnati Children's.

click to enlarge Cincinnati City Hall
Cincinnati City Hall

All right, so it’s apparently borderline winter all of a sudden in Cincinnati. The world is a cold, cold place, and so is the news. Bundle up.

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black is the subject of another lawsuit alleging retaliation for whistle blowing. Fire Department District Chief Raffel Prophett says in his lawsuit, filed yesterday, that he was passed over for promotions twice because he reported separate incidents of wrongdoing within the department. The specifics of those incidents aren’t listed in the lawsuit, but Prophett does provide the names of those he reported.

The lawsuit alleges that Prophett heard he was labeled “a troublemaker” by the city manager’s office following his whistle blowing. This is the second lawsuit in as many months against Black on grounds that he retaliated against whistleblowers. Cincinnati Police Captain Jeffrey Butler filed a similar suit last month, saying the city manager passed him over for a promotion because he complained about alleged misappropriation of federal funds for the city’s emergency call center. Butler has his own contentious history — he was captured on audio tape apparently using a racial slur on duty earlier in his career with CPD. The city solicitor’s office has called his suit unfounded.

• Want an update on the mayoral election? No? Ah, well, it’s my job to give you one so let’s do it. Ready? Here goes… It’s a mess out there. That’s the update. For real though, where to start? Councilwoman Yvette Simpson Sunday evening cancelled her slated participation at a Monday debate with Mayor John Cranley at a place called The Farm, which is in Delhi Township, citing scheduling difficulties. EmpowerU, a right wing group with tea party ties, organized that event. EmpowerU subsequently sent out a press release slamming Simpson for the cancellation and implying without providing evidence that Simpson cancelled due to the debate questions, which were about Children’s Hospital, lowering taxes and how the streetcar is a “boondoggle.” Simpson’s campaign denies that the questions had anything to do with the cancellation, which they say had to do with lack of time in Simpson’s schedule.

I have several questions. First, who in their right mind with either Democrats’ campaign agreed to this tea party-affiliated debate — trolling, “boondoggle” questions and all — in the first place? Second, why is a mayoral debate with questions about the city’s 52 neighborhoods taking place outside the city limits? Third, why is the grammar so odd and choppy in the group’s press release? (“We encourage everyone who read this Press Release to patronize The Farm.”) Fourth, why did Cincinnati Enquirer opinion writer Jason Williams make Simpson’s cancellation a negative headline without covering Mayor John Cranley’s previous forum cancellations in a similar manner, including a controversial last-minute no-show at a primary debate in Walnut Hills and his more recent cancellation at an Oct. 16 community forum at the College of Mount Saint Joseph?

• One more little mayoral election bit: A group of conservative west siders calling themselves the Partnership of Westside Residents Political Action Committee (POWR PAC) have begun mailing negative ads against Simpson and Councilman Wendell Young around their effort to compel Children’s Hospital to provide more money to Avondale community development efforts as the hospital moves forward with a  $550 million expansion. “Westside Residents do you want our kids to have access to one of the best children’s hospital in the world? (sic),” the mailers read. With the election just weeks away, there’s no time for proofreading: At least some copies of the mailer distributed have an address for the PAC that reads “Cicncinnati, Ohio.”

• Speaking of Councilman Young, he is slated to be back in council soon after recovering from a major health scare involving his heart earlier this year, those close to him say. Young’s family and friends say he fully intends to serve another full term on council.

• Cincinnati’s Fraternal Order of Police voted unanimously yesterday evening to ask the city to vacate its District Five police headquarters. Though tests have never shown a conclusive link between the building and cancer cases, six officers who worked in the building have died of cancer in the past few years and others have also been diagnosed. Earlier, the city agreed to move administrative personnel who work in the building full-time to another location in Camp Washington. That move is expected to be finished today, but with last night’s vote, the FOP wants all workers out of the facility for good. FOP President Dan Hils says the union has set aside money for attorneys should the city fail to comply with the request.

• Presidents of area universities have signed a letter to Congress asking legislators to make permanent an executive order by former President Barack Obama. The DREAM Act allows immigrants brought to the United States without documentation as children to stay in the country. The presidents of University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, Miami University, Northern Kentucky University and Mount Saint Joseph signed the letter by the American Council of Education. Roughly 800 other university leaders have also signed on to the effort, citing students at their institutions and their contributions to those communities.

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