Cooper says she first found out about the citations after receiving a notice in the mail last week. She said that the property is co-owned with her ex-husband, Dr. Emmett Cooper, and that she would pay the fines immediately.
Minette Cooper said she has mailed a $250 check to the city solicitor but didn't say when the rest of the total would be paid. Emmett Cooper didn't return a reporter's call seeking comment.
Minette Cooper is running for election to city council after a mandatory four-year hiatus required by term limits
In addition to the outstanding violations, records at the Office of Administrative Hearings show Cooper was cited for two litter violations while she was on city council in 2001.
The current citations involve a vacant lot at 679 S. Fred Shuttlesworth Circle in Avondale and land at 2803 Highland Ave. in Corryville. Four violations were cited between October 2005 and July 2006. Three violations involve variations of what is described as a "vacant lot overgrown with tall weeds encumbering the sidewalk" and the fourth is for "an accumulation of litter, containers and debris on the property."
The Cincinnati Municipal Code states that anyone committing a second offense within the same year can be charged $1,000 each for delinquent payment. If that were applied to the Coopers' case, they would owe $2,600. The municipal code also states that anyone who violates city regulations for weed control three or more times in one year is guilty of a fourth degree misdemeanor, which would entail another fine of up to $250 and/or up to a 30-day jail sentence.
The citations in 2001 involved the couple's home at the time, 3720 Washington Ave. in Avondale, where Minette Cooper still lives. The first offense, for "failure to maintain premises free of wood (tree trunks)," cost the Coopers $200, which was paid only after three notices and a warning from the city.
The second and more serious offense caught the attention of the local Community Neighborhood Action Strategy Team, which sent a complaint to Beth Abbot, a public health sanitarian. In a letter to the Office of Administrative Hearings, Abbott said the Coopers dumped "yard waste, loose trash, tires, plaster and furniture" on the rear of their property.
Abbot verified the validity of the complaints and notified the Coopers via letter before the city charged them with failure to maintain premises free of litter.
Although the Coopers eventually paid the fine, Abbot and the Health Department took photographs showing they were slow in cleaning up their property. As late as January 2002, more than half a year after the Coopers had received their first letter from the health department, Abbot reported that the house was "still in non-compliance with the litter ordinance."
A reporter for CityBeat recently visited Minette Cooper's property in Avondale and found the area -- supposed to be cleaned up over five years ago -- is still a mess. The back side of the property, visible from the sidewalk of S. Fred Shuttlesworth Circle, is littered with used tires, empty bottles, discarded window shutters, rotting pieces of wood and a rusted shopping cart. ©