By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Two Cincinnati City Council members – Tamaya Dennard and David Mann – will lead a hearing about alleged misconduct by City Manager Harry Black, council members unanimously agreed on Wednesday. Both are Democrats.
The investigation is to begin after Black’s own counsel is in place, something that became an issue Wednesday when Mann questioned why taxpayers would have to pay for that. Since the city solicitor will be called as a witness during the hearing, council members agreed that Black needed independent counsel.
Mayor John Cranley asked the city manager to resign on March 9 after the two began to clash.
A majority of Cincinnati City Council members at their March 28 meeting stood in opposition at 5 to 4 to a $423,000 severance package Cranley and Black had agreed to for Black to move on. The deal would pay Black’s salary for 18 months. The severance agreement in his contract limits his severance pay to 8 months’ salary.
Councilmembers Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young are opposed to the $432,000 deal, saying it is irresponsible to taxpayers. Thus, the impasse and agreement this week on an investigation.
Cranley, who was absent from the meeting Wednesday, has said he favors an independent investigation of Black. Councilman Chris Seelbach earlier had suggested an outside investigation of both Cranley and Black in what has become an embarrassing month at City Hall.
While council was in agreement about conducting an investigation, there were concerns about the expense involved in hiring a special counsel and whether the public airing of grievances would turn into a “public lynching,” or a “kangaroo court.”
In a written statement released following the meeting Wednesday, Black called it “an unfortunate and regrettable situation for all involved.”
Black said, “While I am the first to admit, and have, that there is always room for improvement, I have no concerns about how I have conducted myself as a professional and am proud of the results we achieved as a city government.”