By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black offered Mayor John Cranley an apology Wednesday at City Hall. But Cranley said in a press conference after the regular council meeting Wednesday that while he forgives Black, the apology will not stop him from trying to remove Black from his office.
Again, the majority of Cincinnati City Council on Wednesday stood in opposition to the more than $400,000 severance package Cranley and Black have agreed to for Black to move on, saying it’s too much money. The vote was 5 to 4 against the $423,000 severance package, which would pay Black’s salary for 18 months. The severance agreement in his contract limits his severance pay to 8 months salary.
The vote tally was the same as the previous week, with Councilmembers David Mann, Amy Murray, Jeff Pastor and Christopher Smitherman voting for the 18-month buyout to end what has become a bitter feud at City Hall. Voting against that deal were Councilmembers Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, P.G Sittenfeld and Wendell Young.
Cranley asked Black to resign his position on March 9, saying Black has retaliated against and threatened several city workers. Six former or current city employees have filed federal lawsuits against Black, accusing him of such behavior.
Black again said after Wednesday’s meeting he wants to stay on as city manager.
He then shared an apology he sent to Cranley, which follows:
“Mayor, I have offended you and I apologize for that,” Black said. “It is stated that I may have offended others. While it is never my intent, I take full responsibility and apologize to them.
“When I wake up each day, I do so with two overarching priorities: Do as much good as I can for the people of Cincinnati and be as good a person as I can be.
“I am human and therefore imperfect. I believe that God has made us all this way intentionally as a means of keeping us focused on the need to continuously work to improve how good we can be as individuals and as a people.
“I recognize this to be true in my personal experience. I am committed to receiving your feedback and engaging with our workforce and using that feedback as I work to continuously improve my own imperfections.
“I have stated in the past that I do not believe that I am in Cincinnati by accident. I believe that my life experiences have been what they have been in preparing me for this moment in my life.
“I, as an infant, was not expected to make it to my first birthday, but I did. I was not expected to survive the streets of Baltimore, but found ways to elevate myself in terms of safety, education and career advancement. There was no safety net available to me. Although I made it, most did not.
“I don’t share this as a way of offering an excuse, I share this to explain that I am the very first to admit that I’m a work in progress.
“Collectively, we have achieved great things as a city over the past four years. In some cases, things that were believed to be unachievable. I believe that there are many more successes awaiting us. Of course, I would like to be a part of that pursuit.
“Being city manager is an honor and privilege. I would very much like to continue in this capacity as long as my service is desired by this body.’’
Cranley responded by saying, “As a Christian, I will forgive everybody. The question is whether the behavior we’re going to hear from city workers is enough for city council to believe he should continue or not.”
Cranley said the deadlock on the council could be broken if council members hear those employees’ testimony.
Council members met Thursday to discuss the severance deals.