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‘Council Majority’ calls counsel in settling mayor/city manager rift

Written by

Herald Staff

In a letter to Mayor John Cranley, City Manager Harry Black, the media and the public, a group of Cincinnati City Council members, who call themselves the “Council Majority,” is asking for “outside counsel to be appointed to collect and investigate the concerns raised by the mayor, all counter-factuals from the city manager, and testimony from city employees or any other directly involved stakeholders’’ in regard to the drama that has played out this past two weeks in the bitter rift between Cranley and Black. This special counsel will then write a report to be submitted to City Council for its review, the group states.

Cranley has asked Black to resign because of “his (alleged) pattern of behavior that has been abusive, threatening, unprofessional and inappropriate that covers several years.’’ Cranley said he has advised Black about this alleged behavior, but that behavior has been repeated and is getting more frequent. “I am concerned about protecting city employees,’’ he said.

Black refuses to step down and has the backing of a number of Civil Rights leaders and organizations in the community.

The letter is signed by council members Tamaya Dennard, P.G. Sittenfeld, Greg Landsman, Wendell Young and Chris Seelbach.

The letter follows:

“We have watched this unfortunate saga unfold in recent days, and feel strongly that it is now on us-the Council Majority-to bring order and a fair process to this situation.

“To be clear, anyone who wishes to bring forward concerns or report misconduct must feel safe and comfortable doing so. We actively want your voice to be heard.

“We also believe strongly in due process. No one’s name or reputation should be tarnished without there being clear evidence (beyond just “he said, she said”) as well as a fair opportunity for that individual to respond.

“We share the serious concern of organizations like the Urban League, Community Action Agency, NAACP, Black Agenda, National Action Network, Black United Front, and others that present behavior is rolling back the clock on race relations in Cincinnati; we will not abet the intentional denigration of another Black leader in our community.

“We also do not support forcing the taxpayers to pay out of their own pockets for what is currently a broken relationship. We believe there are much better immediate next steps.

“First, this situation clearly must be de-politicized and taken out of the hands of those most directly in the fog of war. Therefore, we are calling for the appointment of an outside special counsel (appointed by a majority of City Council), to collect and investigate the concerns raised by the mayor, any and all counter-factuals from the city manager, and testimony from city employees or any other directly involved stakeholders. This special counsel will then write a report to be submitted to City Council for our review.

“At the same time, we are calling for a ceasefire between the mayor and city manager, during which they both agree to say nothing more on the subject and to focus on the city’s work. During this ceasefire, council will bring in a pro bono mediator to privately help the mayor and manager navigate their relationship and return to getting things done for the citizens of Cincinnati. Lastly, during this ceasefire, we call for no personnel changes.

“Council will control this process as it unfolds, and if the need and desire for what the mayor has called a “public trial” remains, then council will control the time, date, and location of such a special meeting. Because of the significant interest from concerned members of the community, such a specially-called meeting would occur in the evening, be held out in the community, and be posted with at least two weeks notice to the public.

“We look forward to cool heads prevailing, these issues being properly addressed, and everyone getting back to work for the city we love.’’

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