City Manager Hits Back Against Mayor With His Own Wrongdoing Allegations

Apr 18, 2018

Updated 5:19 p.m.

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black sent a memo to council members Wednesday expressing concerns about Mayor John Cranley's "intrusive role in the economic development process."

Black said he's concerned about the mayor's role both "from an operational as well as ethical perspective." In March, he canceled weekly meetings with the mayor's staff on economic development deals because of his concerns about Cranley's involvement.

"I believe the recent loss of Department of Community and Economic Development leadership staff, including the director and both assistant directors, within the last five months represents a troubling signal," Black writes in his memo. "I have expressed these concerns to the mayor and his response has been retaliation toward me and the administration."

Black attached documents -- memos to himself -- with two examples.

In one from 2016, a business owner apparently held a fundraiser for Cranley and was promised he would receive development air rights to build on top of the CET (Town Center) Garage.

In a June 2017 note, then-Economic Development Director Oscar Bedolla raised concerns about an email from Cranley campaign representative Jay Kincaid about the city entering into an agreement with a company for a site at 435 Elm Street.

The mayor responded in a statement early Wednesday evening. "The charter and the public expects that the mayor is involved with economic development," it read. "From GE to FCC to neighborhood investments, I am proud to have made a difference in bringing jobs to the city. Only I can refer legislation to Council on economic development. Therefore, I have to be involved and should be. I am fully ethical and transparent and reject any insinuation otherwise." 

Jim Benedict of Government Strategies Group, mentioned in one of the memos below, contacted WVXU to say, "The heresay allegation by Mr. Black is untrue."

Mayor Cranley and City Manager Black have been at odds for more than a month. Cranley wants to remove Black from office, but a council majority has blocked Cranley's efforts.

Cranley has said Black has been abusive towards city employees. A process to let employees testify about that treatment is on hold because of a lawsuit. Those sessions with two council members were supposed to begin Monday, but the Cincinnati Enquirer is challenging the process saying the city charter doesn't allow closed door meetings.

Economic Develoment Concerns by WVXU News on Scribd