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February 5th, 2009 By | News | Posted In: Community, City Council

Despite Setback, IIN Musters On

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The saga about how the city of Cincinnati should distribute taxpayer money to neighborhood groups goes on.

Although City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday to not extend the contract for Invest In Neighborhoods Inc. (IIN) and instead begin administering the money in-house using city staffers, IIN still plans on holding a meeting tonight to discuss the program that was pulled from its control.

The formal meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. in IIN’s offices, located at the Cincinnati Fire Museum, 315 W. Court St., downtown, but a training session will begin at 6 p.m.

In a mass e-mail sent to neighborhood groups by Rick Dieringer, IIN’s executive director, he wrote that the previously scheduled meeting would occur despite City Council’s action.

“We have announced the regularly scheduled (Neighborhood Support Program) review
meeting for Thursday evening to consider proposals already submitted,” Dieringer wrote. “That meeting will still be held at the Invest office, although we will have no role in it. Council Member Laketa Cole will attend to address community reps. If you have an interest in the future of your neighborhood and the city funding, we encourage you to
attend this meeting, regardless whether you have a seat on the review committee or a proposal for consideration.”

Cole was one of the two City Council members who opposed pulling the contract from IIN; Roxanne Qualls was the other. Some council members and neighborhood activists allege tonight’s meeting will attempt to lobby neighborhood groups for their support in trying to persuade City Council to undo the action.

Council members who supported ending the contract were Chris Bortz, David Crowley, Leslie Ghiz, Greg Harris and Cecil Thomas.

IIN is a non-profit organization that’s administered and distributed money from City Hall to community councils for years. Some neighborhood activists began urging City Council to pull the contract last summer amid allegations about how the organization conducts business.

Allegations include that IIN’s close-knit executive committee is overly secretive about its procedures, covers up financial problems, doesn’t follow its own code of ethics and engages in insider dealing by awarding contracts to friends.

The allegations surfaced after a dispute last year over hiring a new IIN director to replace Dieringer. After the flap, seven people on IIN’s 17-member Board of Trustees who defied the executive committee were ousted. Another three board members quit in protest, meaning nearly 60 percent of the trustees were replaced.

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