Cincinnati Park Board Appointment Could Be Headed To Court

Dec 20, 2017

Cincinnati Council has approved a controversial appointment to the city's park board, and the issue may end up in court.

Mayor John Cranley selected Jim Goetz to replace park board president Dianne Rosenberg when her term expires. Council voted 5-4 to approve it.

Rosenberg and some council members argue she was appointed in 2015 for a six-year term that ends in 2021.

But Cranley said when he appointed Rosenberg in 2015 it was only to fill an unexpired term that ends on Dec. 31.

Cranley said his new appointment is about getting the park board to implement financial reforms.

"The heart of the matter involves issues of funds that were given, in some cases a hundred years ago, to the park board in the form of endowments that are currently illegally housed in separate bank accounts inconsistently with state and local law," Cranley said.

Cranley argued in a letter to council that the park board "has failed to take action to comply with a majority of the internal and state audit recommendations."

The board and city administrators have worked for more than a year to reach an agreement on the financial issues. Those efforts have all failed.

Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld and two other members said they rejected the premise of the appointment because they argue there is no open seat to be filled on the park board.

Sittenfeld said it sends a bad message to the volunteers on the city's numerous board and commissions.

"If and when there's disagreement with your volunteer service there will be a move to terminate it prematurely. That has a chilling effect on Cincinnati's best and brightest and most committed and most generous stepping up to say, 'I too will serve,'" Sittenfeld said.

Rosenberg has a couple of attorneys working for her on the issue. One said she is considering her legal options.