Noon News: Shakeups continue at Clerk of Courts; Simpson grabs endorsements; big interest in park board director job

Councilwoman Yvette Simpson Friday grabbed two endorsements from the city’s Charter Committee and Democracy for America, a national progressive group that raised $2 million for Bernie Sanders' presidential primary run.

click to enlarge Councilwoman Yvette Simpson - Nick Swartsell
Nick Swartsell
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson

Good morning all. You know what day it is, and why I’ll be keeping this morning’s news update mercifully short. Go check out the parade.

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval dismissed several more workers from the clerk’s office Friday, continuing the shake-ups the Democrat promised during his underdog campaign against former Republican Clerk Tracy Winkler. Pureval said in a statement announcing the dismissals that the changes he’s made so far have saved the county $475,000. Twenty-three people have either resigned or been dismissed since Pureval took office in January. The new Clerk has said that he’s working on modernizing the office with new technology, a new structure and non-political hiring practices. Pureval’s stepped on some toes in the process, however, drawing ire from Hamilton County GOP Chair Alex Triantafilou and other critics, who have said that he’s fired some vital personnel in his efforts to clean out the office.

• Will a Cincinnati politician throw her hat in the ring for a higher office, perhaps vying to replace Ohio Gov. John Kasich or challenge U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot for his House seat next year? Democrat Alicia Reece of Roselawn, a former Cincinnati City Councilmember and current state rep., faces term limits in the Ohio House and is weighing her next move. That could include running for Congress or jumping into a quickly crowding gubernatorial field. A Reece House run could be difficult — Chabot benefits from his long tenure in the seat and a district that has been redrawn to benefit Republicans by including deep red Warren County. But the district also includes big swaths of Hamilton County, which has trended more Democratic recently.

• Councilwoman Yvette Simpson Friday grabbed two endorsements for her mayoral bid. The Democrat won a nod from the city’s Charter Committee, often called Cincinnati’s third political party, though it doesn’t field candidates itself in most races. Simpson also scooped up an endorsement from Democracy for America, a national progressive group that backed Bernie Sanders’ 2016 Democratic Party presidential primary bid, raising more than $2 million for the Vermont senator. The group says it has more than 3,000 members in Cincinnati.  

The rush is on to replace Willie Carden. The Parks Board director will retire June 1, and there are 76 people lined up who want to replace him as the leader of the sometimes-embattled board. Among the candidates for the $155,000 job: former Cincinnati Transportation and Engineering Department Director John Deatrick, who ran the city’s efforts to build the streetcar. Two-thirds of those applicants are from places outside Cincinnati. Many have experience in parks management, but only one has a resume including a past board directorship.

• Finally, big turnover is happening in Covington City Hall. Four months into new Mayor Joe Meyer’s tenure, a number of longtime, high-level employees have made for the exits, leaving City Hall understaffed for the time being. Meyer says that’s par for the course during any change in administration. But critics say Meyer is hard to work with and has created a tense atmosphere in the halls of city government. They cite Meyer’s intense feud with former City Manager Larry Klein as an example of the kind of dynamics Meyer has sparked during his short tenure. Klein resigned in February after continued pressure from Meyer to leave the post so the mayor could appoint his own choice. Former Assistant Finance Manager David Matthews and Senior Accounting Manager Robert Hagerdorn also flew the coop March 6. Matthews says Meyer’s managerial style was demeaning to other city employees and difficult to work with. Meyer’s supporters, however, blame former city manager Klein for the perception that Meyer is hard to work with. Meanwhile, Covington is working to fill the gaps left by the former staff. Meyer says that’s going well, and that the city is moving along just fine with temporary help in some high positions. Others like Matthews say that unfilled positions like his mean there are diminished checks and balances that could mean spending oversight problems down the road.

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