Council Majority Now Supports Firing City Manager Black If He Doesn't Resign

Apr 19, 2018

Cincinnati Council Member Greg Landsman announced Thursday he'll vote with four other council members to fire City Manager Harry Black, if he doesn't resign first.

Landsman's change of heart means there's now majority support for Black's removal. Landsman issued a statement Thursday evening.

"The dysfunction at City Hall clearly needs to end, and we have to be fully focused on fixing the issues with our 911 system," Landsman wrote. "The manager is not fully focused on this, and we continue to be distracted by the ongoing saga surrounding the manager and mayor."

The 911 system has been under review after last week's death of 16-year-old Kyle Plush. He called 911 twice for help after getting trapped inside a van in his school parking lot. Officers were not able locate him after those initial calls, and his father found him later that evening. Kyle's second call included specific information about the vehicle.  But those details weren't shared with officers on the scene.

Mayor John Cranley asked Black to resign on March 9, but he refused. On March 17, Cranley and Black announced they had agreed to a separation agreement. However, a council majority, including Landsman, opposed that proposal.

City Council did unanimously agree to provide Black with eight months of salary if he resigns before April 30. That's the same amount he's entitled to if he's fired.

City spokesman Rocky Merz didn't respond to texts seeking a comment from Black. The city manager told two other media outlets he plans to be at work Friday.

Cranley has said Black has been abusive and acted unprofessionally toward city employees.

Council had approved a process to let employees testify under oath about that treatment during closed door sessions with two council members. City Council would have been given a report about that testimony.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is challenging the process saying the city charter doesn't allow closed door meetings.

Black sent a memo to council members Wednesday expressing concerns about Mayor 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."

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.

Cranley hired Black to be city manager in August 2014.