by German Lopez
4 hours ago
Mayor to launch nationwide search to fill position
Cincinnati Parks Department Director Willie Carden, Mayor John Cranley's choice for city manager, has withdrawn from the nomination process, the mayor's office announced on Friday.The mayor's office said it will keep Acting City Manager Scott Stiles in his current role while it launches a nationwide search for a permanent replacement."After consulting with my family, we have
come to the personal, private decision that it is best for me to remain as the director of the Parks Department," Carden said in a statement. "John Cranley is going to be a great mayor and
this is a difficult decision for me. But
it’s simply about what is best for me and my family. As a personal matter, I would ask that you
respect our family's privacy."Carden's nomination initially drew wide praise from City Council, but it was snared in controversy after Carden said he will continue to live outside Cincinnati — a violation of the city charter. The Cincinnati Enquirer also uncovered an ethics probe that found Carden wrongfully took pay from both the city and the private Parks Foundation.Councilman Chris Seelbach responded ambivalently to the news, praising both Carden and the decision to go through a national search."Although I would have supported Willie Carden as the permanent city manager, I'm glad to see we are now going to undertake the process we
should have taken all along," Seelbach posted on Facebook.When Cranley announced the nomination on Nov. 27, the Charter Committee, Cincinnati's unofficial third political party, criticized Cranley for not undertaking a transparent national search prior to his decision.City Council's Rules and Audit Committee almost considered Carden's nomination on Tuesday, but the decision was delayed for a week to give council members time to interview Carden one-on-one and evaluate ordinances for the nomination.
by German Lopez
58 hours ago
Streetcar decision today, city's streetcar costs could grow, city manager nomination delayed
City Council plans to vote
today on 11 ordinances that would indefinitely pause the $132.8 million
streetcar project while council members review and weigh the costs of
cancellation versus the costs of completion. The measures are expected
to pass. Because they each allocate at least $100,000 in funding, the
ordinances are not susceptible to referendum. Although Mayor John
Cranley repeatedly defended the “people’s sacred right of referendum” in
opposition to the parking privatization plan while on the campaign trail, he
now says he doesn’t want the city to be forced to continue spending on
the streetcar project he adamantly opposes until November 2014, as would
be required under a traditional referendum.
If a 1930 Ohio Supreme Court ruling applies, Cincinnati could be responsible
for paying to move utility lines to accommodate for streetcar tracks,
but the city might be able to charge some of those costs back to utility
companies, according to a newly disclosed 2011 memo from a city
attorney to former City Manager Milton Dohoney. The memo is the latest
twist in the ongoing legal battle between Duke Energy and the city over
who has to pay $15 million to move utility lines for the streetcar
project. If the city loses the case, the cost of the project could climb
from $132.8 million to $147.8 million. But it’s still unclear how much
the 1930 case applies, given that the 1930 streetcar system was owned by
a private company and the 2016 version would be owned by the city.Editorial from The Cincinnati Enquirer: “Pausing streetcar same as killing it.”
Mayor Cranley and City Council agreed to delay
a vote on Willie Carden’s nomination for city manager to
give council members enough time to meet with the candidate one-on-one
and “digest” ordinances for his nomination. The nomination of Carden,
who currently heads the Parks Department, has been plagued by some
controversy because of Carden’s decision to live outside Cincinnati,
which violates the rules set by the city charter for the city manager, and recently uncovered ethics issues in which Carden wrongfully took pay from both the private Parks Foundation and city.
City Council also delayed voting on new rules for a week
to give council members more time to analyze and discuss the rules.
Until then, City Council will operate under the standard Robert's Rules
of Order. One possible change to the rules would increase the time given to public
speakers during committee meetings from two to three minutes.Watch Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld outmaneuver Mayor Cranley here.
The Ohio Supreme Court yesterday unanimously dismissed
a request to compel JobsOhio to disclose various documents. The court
argued that state law passed by Republican legislators largely exempted
JobsOhio from public record requests, which means the privatized
development agency can keep most of its inner workings secret.
Republicans argue the agency’s secretive, privatized nature is necessary
to quickly establish business deals around the state, while Democrats
claim the anti-transparency measures make it too difficult to hold
JobsOhio accountable as it uses taxpayer dollars.
The addition of measures that would create state and county councils to help get people off Medicaid ruined some of the bipartisan efforts behind Medicaid overhaul legislation,
but Republican legislators still intend to bring the legislation to an
Ohio House vote today. Republicans argue the controversial
amendments merely update the “framework” under which counties can
streamline efforts to get people off public assistance programs. But
Democrats say the last-minute measures might have unintended
consequences, including one portion that might give the state council
the ability to change — and potentially weaken — Medicaid eligibility
An Ohio Senate bill would revamp and reduce teacher evaluation requirements
to make them less costly and burdensome for school districts. The
current standards require an annual evaluation of any Ohio teacher rated
below “accomplished” and, according to some school districts, create
high costs and administrative burdens that outweigh the benefits.
For the second time in two weeks, Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter left court in an ambulance after supposedly passing out in court. Hunter faces increasing pressure from higher courts to rule on long-stalled cases.
A 9-year-old boy who was abandoned by his adoptive parents in Butler County allegedly threatened to kill his adoptive family.
Here is how bars are using cutting-edge technology to make better drinks.
Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 20, 2013
City Council on Nov. 14 accepted City
Manager Milton Dohoney’s resignation.
by German Lopez
21 days ago
Streetcar supporters pack event, federal funds threatened, Dohoney to get severance pay
Supporters of the $133 million streetcar project packed Mercantile Library and Fountain Square
last night to start a two-week campaign to prevent Mayor-elect John
Cranley and the newly elected City Council from halting the ongoing
project. The goal is to convince at least five of the nine newly elected
council members to support the project. So far, streetcar supporters
have at least three pro-streetcar votes: Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson
and Wendell Young. Now, they’re trying to convince another three — Kevin
Flynn, David Mann and P.G. Sittenfeld — to support continuing the
project; all three spoke against the streetcar on the campaign trail,
but they’ve recently said they want a full accounting of the project’s
completion costs, cancellation costs and potential return of investment
before making a final decision. CityBeat covered the campaign and the people involved in greater detail here.
Hours before the event began, Mayor Mark Mallory released a letter from the Federal Transit Administration that explicitly stated
canceling the project would cost Cincinnati nearly $41 million in
federal funds and another $4 million would be left under the discretion
of Gov. John Kasich, who could shift the money to other parts of Ohio.
Cranley previously stated he could lobby the federal government to
re-appropriate the money to other city projects, but the letter makes it
quite clear that’s not in the plans right now. On the elevator ride up
to the Mercantile Library event, Sittenfeld commented on the letter to CityBeat, “I will say that today's news is a big gain in the pro-streetcar column.”
City Council yesterday accepted the resignation of City Manager Milton Dohoney,
just one day after Cranley announced Dohoney’s leave and his support
for it. Although council members acknowledged they had to accept the
resignation in lieu of the Nov. 5 election results, they said they were
unhappy with the behind-the-scenes approach that was taken by Cranley throughout the process. For the year following his resignation,
Dohoney will receive $255,000 in severance pay and health benefits
through the city, which will cost an already-strained operating budget
that’s been structurally imbalanced since 2001.
Flaherty & Collins, the Indianapolis-based developer that’s building a downtown apartment tower at Fourth and Race streets, said it’s interested in the retail space being left vacant by Saks Fifth Avenue.
Northern Kentucky residents last night got a look at a regional strategy to fight the growing heroin problem in the area.
The report, put together by substance abuse and medical experts, law
enforcement officials, governmental leaders and business
representatives, calls for more physicians and long-term treatment
options to address the issue. “We cannot arrest or incarcerate our way
out of the problem,” said Dr. Lynne Saddler, director of the Northern Kentucky
Independent District Health Department. “The success of this
plan really hinges on having sufficient treatment options and resources
available so that everyone seeking and wanting treatment can easily
Union Township Rep. John Becker introduced a bill
in the Ohio House this week that would ban most public and private
health insurers from providing abortion coverage. The bill has yet to be
assigned to a committee. Becker describes himself as one of the most
conservative members of the Ohio legislature. He’s also supported the
Heartbeat Bill, which would ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected; called needle-exchange efforts part of the “liberal media
agenda”; and lobbied for the impeachment of a judge who allowed the
state to recognize the same-sex marriage of Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, who recently passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted urged the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission
to address politicized redistricting. Under the current system, the
political party in charge — the last time around, Republicans — can use
demographic trends to redraw congressional district boundaries to
maximize the votes of supporters and split and dilute the votes of
opponents. Although Husted is now calling for reform to make
redistricting more representative of the state’s actual political make-up, he opposed a ballot initiative in 2012 that would have placed
an independent committee in charge of redistricting.
Speaking at a Cleveland steel mill, President Barack Obama talked up U.S. manufacturing and its potential for economic growth.
The Christmas holiday tree arrives at Fountain Square tomorrow.
Tomorrow is also the day of the One Stop Drop recycling event,
where anyone can drop off electronic and other waste — TVs, computers,
cellphones and chargers, No. 5 plastics such as butter tubs and yogurt
containers, single-use grocery bags and used writing instruments like
pencils and pens — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Whole Foods Market in
Rookwood Commons, 2693 Edmondson Road.
Five crashes in Covington, Ohio, left six horses dead and one injured.
More Ohioans also died on the road in 2012 than the year before.
The world’s oldest animal — a mollusk — missed Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas by 14 years.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
22 days ago
Dohoney to get one year of severance pay following mayor-elect’s request
City Council on Thursday accepted City Manager Milton
Dohoney’s resignation, setting the stage for the end of more than seven
years of service that fostered Cincinnati’s nationally recognized economic turnaround, the $133 million streetcar project and
the controversial parking plan.
The request comes just one day after Mayor-elect John
Cranley announced Dohoney’s resignation. Cranley says he will appoint an
interim city manager once Dohoney officially steps down on Dec. 1 and
then begin a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.
For the year following his resignation, Dohoney will
receive $255,000 in severance pay — the same as his current annual
salary — and health benefits through the city. The extra costs will go
to an already-strained operating budget, which has been structurally
imbalanced since 2001.
Although council members acknowledged that they had to
accept the resignation in the aftermath of the Nov. 5 election, some
said they were unhappy with the behind-the-scenes approach Cranley took
to finalize Dohoney’s leave.
“It’s certainly not the process I would have liked,” said Councilman Chris Seelbach.
Others praised Dohoney’s work for the city, which lasted
through both the Great Recession and the beginnings of Over-the-Rhine and Cincinnati’s economic revitalization.
“He has served the city very well. He has been a leader in
terms of economic development across the city,” said Vice Mayor Roxanne
Qualls, who lost in her bid against Cranley for the mayorship.
Cranley and Dohoney differ on both the streetcar project
and parking plan, which would have outsourced the city’s parking meters,
lots and garages to the Greater Cincinnati Port Authority and private operators. Cranley opposes and plans to do away with both policies, while Dohoney helped establish both.
Cranley announced on Tuesday
that he, newly elected council members and the Port Authority agreed to
call off the parking plan once the new city government takes office on
Dec. 1, but it remains unclear how much it will cost the city to break
from the plan and its numerous contractual obligations.
Similarly, Cranley told The Cincinnati Enquirer in a
livestreamed interview on Thursday that he will try to put an estimated
30-to-90-day time-out on the streetcar project as the city conducts a
full accounting of how much it would take to cancel the project versus
continuing with ongoing construction and the potential return on
investment of completion.
The talk of cancellation already spurred some Over-the-Rhine residents and businesses to launch a campaign to save the streetcar.
Cranley insists it’s too expensive and the wrong priority for the city,
but supporters tout independent studies and their own experiences to
argue it would spur economic development. The pro-streetcar group will
meet on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St.
#1100, downtown Cincinnati.
If the streetcar goes the way of the parking plan, Cranley
will effectively unravel two major milestones of Dohoney’s seven years
by German Lopez
22 days ago
Streetcar supporters to meet today, Dohoney to resign, city continues with retail plans
Supporters of the streetcar project are rallying in a last-stand effort to save the streetcar
from an incoming city government that’s threatening to cancel the
project. Supporters plan to meet today in a town hall-style meeting at 7
p.m. at the Mercantile Library, 414 Walnut St. #1100, downtown
Cincinnati. Some of the supporters of the movement are residents,
business owners and realtors in Over-the-Rhine who told CityBeat
that canceling the project will set the city’s economic momentum back.
Mayor-elect John Cranley disagrees, but the decision is ultimately up to
the newly elected City Council to cancel the project, and at least
three of nine newly elected council members previously seen as streetcar opponents —
P.G. Sittenfeld, David Mann and Kevin Flynn — told CityBeat
they’d like to evaluate the costs of canceling the project and the
potential return of investment versus the cost of completing
City Manager Milton Dohoney will resign on Dec. 1
and receive one year of severance pay, Cranley announced yesterday. To
political watchers, the news comes as very little surprise. Cranley and
Dohoney disagreed on two key issues — the streetcar project and parking plan,
both of which Cranley opposes and Dohoney supported and helped get off
the ground. Once the new mayor and City Council take over in December,
Cranley says he will appoint a yet-to-be-named interim city manager and
begin looking for a permanent replacement.
Despite Saks Fifth Avenue’s departure, the city intends to move forward
with its plans to build a retail corridor downtown, and others have
approached the city about taking Saks’ space, according to Kathleen
Norris, managing principal of Urban Fast Forward and the city’s retail
leasing consultant. Saks announced yesterday that it’s closing down its
downtown store and moving to Kenwood Collection. Although the move is a
blow to the city, a few city officials were quick to point to other
growth in downtown Cincinnati as an example of what will attract new
retail outlets in the future.
A deal is nearly set
to fund the $107 million interchange project at Interstate 71 and
Martin Luther King Drive. As part of the deal, the Ohio Department of
Transportation will pay for $52 million, and Cincinnati and the
Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) will take a
loan from the state infrastructure bank to pay for their share. OKI says
it will pay for its portion of the loan through $25 million in federal
funding, but it’s so far unclear how the city will pay for its share of
the project. The outgoing city administration intended to pay for the project through the
now-canceled parking plan, which would outsource the city’s parking
meters, lots and garages.
Cranley says the city can get out of the parking plan
without defaulting on the lease agreement with the Greater Cincinnati
Port Authority, but Cranley’s position is at odds with the stated
opinion of officials in the outgoing city administration and Port
Authority. Cranley announced on Tuesday that the parking plan will be called off
once he and the new council take office in December, but it’s unclear
how much it will cost to break out of the plan and its various
The Ohio House held a hearing
yesterday for two bills that would increase safeguards for victims of
domestic violence, including new housing and employment protections. CityBeat previously covered the story of Andrea Metil, a domestic violence victim who is calling for greater protections.
Only 1,150 Ohioans signed up for Obamacare through the troubled HealthCare.gov
portal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced
yesterday. Both the Ohio-wide measure and nationwide number — 106,185 — fell far
short of the federal government’s expectations for the first month of
enrollment. But many of the troubles are caused by technical problems
that have made HealthCare.gov largely unworkable for most Americans. The
federal government is working to correct the errors by December, but The Washington Post reports that the website likely won’t be fully functional by then.
Meanwhile, Ohioans will be able to enroll in the now-expanded Medicaid program on Dec. 9. Republican Gov. John Kasich got the federally funded Medicaid expansion for two years through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel, despite the Republican-controlled legislature’s opposition.
The Ohio House yesterday approved a bill that reforms municipal taxes,
which businesses support but cities oppose. Supporters argue it will
simplify the tax code so businesses can more easily work around the
state and from county to county, but opponents claim it will reduce how
much revenue cities receive.
Kasich temporarily delayed convicted child killer Ronald Phillips’s execution so Phillips can donate his non-vital organs to his mother and possibly others.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble is shuffling some of its top positions.
Here is how Mars might have looked 4 billion years ago.Follow CityBeat on Twitter:• Main: @CityBeatCincy• News: @CityBeat_News• Music: @CityBeatMusic• German Lopez: @germanrlopez
by German Lopez
77 days ago
Restorations would subsidize car use for mayor, city manager, other directors
Just a few months after the city avoided laying off cops,
firefighters and other city employees, City Manager Milton Dohoney on
Sept. 15 proposed restoring $26,640 in vehicle allowances that would
subsidize car use for the city manager, the mayor and other
director-level positions in the city administration.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding told CityBeat that restoring the allowances is a matter of basic fairness and keeping both the city’s word and competitiveness.
Olberding says car allowances are typically part of
compensation packages offered in other cities that compete with
Cincinnati for recruitment. The allowances, she explains, were also
promised to city directors as part of their pay packages when they were
first hired for the job.
“Cutting it reneges on their original offer and part of
the pretense under which they took the job,” Olberding says, adding that
failing to restore the compensation promises could make future potential hires
reluctant to work in Cincinnati.
But given Cincinnati’s ongoing budget problems, some council members say the proposal is out of touch.
“Are you kidding me?” asked Councilman Chris Seelbach at
the Sept. 16 Budget and Finance Committee meeting. “I just question the
judgment of an administration that would make that kind of
recommendation given our current financial situation. I’m offended that
it would be even recommended.”
Even though City Council managed to avoid layoffs in this
year’s budget, Cincinnati’s operating budget remains structurally
unbalanced, which means the city will have to come up with new revenue
or cuts to balance the budget in upcoming years.Seelbach told CityBeat he doesn’t agree with the competitiveness arguments. “I’m more concerned with the garbage worker who’s making barely enough to get by and would love to get a quarter-on-the-hour raise, much less a $5,000 car allowance,” he says. “If someone wants to leave their position when they’re making $100,000-plus because we’re not going to give them a $5,000 car allowance, I’m convinced we can find someone just as capable, if not more capable, that would be thrilled with a $100,000-plus salary with no car allowance.”
Still, Olberding points out that city directors often need
to drive more than the typical worker, whether it’s to get to public
meetings, in case of an emergency or as a natural consequence of being on call 24/7. She says that justifies what she sees as a
The restoration was tucked into a proposal
from the city manager that restores more than $6.7 million in previous cuts by
using revenue left over from the previous budget cycle. The car
allowance portion is about 0.3 percent of the total proposal and less
than one-hundredth of a percent of the city’s overall operating budget.
For some city officials, the issue gets to what they perceive
as a disconnect between private individuals and the government: Although thousands of
dollars might seem like a lot of money to the typical person, the
sum is usually worth much less than a penny on the dollar in city budget
terms.But Seelbach says garbage collectors and other city workers who haven’t received a raise in years would be thrilled to split $22,000, even if the sum doesn’t mean much in total budget terms.“It shows a lack of respect for the people who make this city work,” Seelbach says.
The proposal also comes shortly after a tense budget showdown and in the middle of an election year for City Council and the mayor’s office. Dohoney repeatedly said throughout the past year that the
city would have to lay off 344 employees, including 189 cops and 80
firefighters, if it didn’t lease its parking meters to the Greater
Cincinnati Port Authority. The city ultimately avoided the layoffs
without the parking lease by making cuts in various areas, including the
city’s parks, and tapping into higher-than-expected revenues, but the city is still pursuing the lease to pay for economic development projects.
City Council will take up the restoration measures at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Sept. 24.Updated at 4:09 p.m. with comments from Councilman Chris Seelbach.
by German Lopez
84 days ago
Posted In: News
at 02:35 PM | Permalink
Twenty-six-year veteran of Columbus Division of Police to take over
City Manager Milton Dohoney announced on Sept. 13 that
Jeffrey Blackwell, the current deputy chief of the Columbus
Division of Police, is being appointed to Cincinnati’s top police job.
The appointment ends a months-long process as the city searched for a replacement for former Police Chief James Craig, who left in June to take the top police job in his hometown, Detroit.
Blackwell was picked over three other finalists: Paul
Humphries, who’s been acting Cincinnati Police chief since Craig left;
Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department; and
Jerry Speziale, deputy superintendent of the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey Police.
In a statement, the city touted Blackwell’s
accomplishments in Columbus: Blackwell is a 26-year veteran of the police force, he was commended
for his outreach to young people, he helped reach out to significant
immigrant populations such as Somalians and Latinos, he advanced the use
of technology and he worked with the city and communities to reduce crime
“Jeff understands that we have to work with the various
communities we serve to build a culture of understanding and respect. In particular, I have spoken to him about our need to work in
partnership with other organizations to reach teen youth and young
adults to move the needle on reducing crime in this community,” Dohoney
said in a statement.
With the decision, Blackwell will be put in charge of implementing new policies and leading the Cincinnati Police Department.
The appointment was made without much
public input, even though some City Council members previously called on
Dohoney to open up the process. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on Sept. 9
sent a letter to the city manager asking him to hold town halls in which
the public could ask questions and evaluate the police chief
The city manager is ultimately in charge of who gets appointed to the city’s top police job.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 11, 2013
City officials are now considering four
finalists for the Cincinnati Police Department’s top job, City Manager
Milton Dohoney announced on Sept. 9.
by German Lopez
92 days ago
Posted In: News
at 03:19 PM | Permalink
City manager will interview candidates in coming days
City officials are now considering four finalists for the
Cincinnati Police Department’s top job, City Manager Milton Dohoney
The city has been looking for a replacement for former
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig, who left in June to take the top
police job in his hometown, Detroit. Since then, Paul Humphries has been
acting chief of the Cincinnati Police Department.
Humphries is among the four finalists being considered by
the city manager. The others: Jeffrey Blackwell, deputy chief of the
Columbus, Ohio, Police Department; Michael Dvorak, deputy chief of the
Mesa, Ariz., Police Department; and Jerry Speziale, deputy
superintendent of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.Whoever is picked will be charged with implementing new policies and leading the Cincinnati Police Department.
The four finalists were screened by a committee that
looked at 28 total applicants. The committee was comprised of 11 members
that included a former police chief, a former prosecuting attorney, Air
Force veterans, business leaders and community members.
“I am appreciative to the Screening Committee for their
time, dedication and the seriousness to which they approached the
selection process in order to recommend this group of excellent
candidates for our next Chief of Police,” Dohoney said in a statement.
The city manager will make the final decision of who to appoint as Cincinnati’s next police chief. Dohoney could choose one of the four finalists or consider
other applicants until the position is filled.