Cincinnati Park Board President Dianne Rosenberg and her attorney Paul De Marco are claiming victory after a Hamilton County Judge said she can remain in her seat until the Mayor and council members can decide on a replacement.
Rosenberg filed suit, calling it an "unlawful scheme" after Mayor Cranley appointed Jim Goetz to the Park Board for what the Mayor said was to implement financial reforms. Rosenberg claimed her term was supposed to be six years and it wasn't up yet and the vote for Goetz was illegal.
In court Tuesday, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Charles Kubicki Jr. heard arguments centering around Cincinnati's charter and the meaning of "fill" versus "appointed."
Deputy City Solicitor Terry Nestor said the law is clear. "Despite all the drama, Dianne Rosenberg was always filling the unexpired term of (former board member) Cathy Crain, no more and no less and she doesn't not have the rights of an appointee." (to serve a full six-year term)
But, "The holdover issue is a red herring," according to plaintiff's attorney De Marco. He argued Mayor Cranley had no right to appoint somebody else before the new council was sworn in.
Judge Kubicki agreed.
After the hearing De Marco told reporters the vote was illegal. "And the city is absolutely barred, the mayor is absolutely barred from doing anything to try to replace her."
Rosenberg said, "I will continue to work hard with my fellow commissioners to work hard for the Park Board."
Mayor John Cranley was not in court for Tuesday's hearing, but his office issued a written statement following the decision.
"Today’s victory brings us one step closer to ensuring that monies given in trust to the Cincinnati Park Board are treated and accounted for like other public dollars," Cranley said in a written statement. "The parks department is a public body under state law and all of its money is public money that must be accounted for publicly and transparently."