Cincinnati City Council

Earlier this year some Cincinnati Council members and city public school officials announced plans for joint meetings.  The second such session was held Monday night and another is likely to be held next month.  

The effort is called ACES, or Alliance for Community and Educational Success.  Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld was one of the organizers.

  The mayor of a city can be considered its chief executive officer. But the power that office holds is determined by a city’s rules or charter, which defines what a mayor can, and cannot, do. Cincinnati adopted a “strong mayor” system of government 15 years ago. Now Cincinnati Councilman Christopher Smitherman is exploring another change, to what some call an “executive mayor” system.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are officially asking a federal judge to intervene in their  Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) dispute with Cincinnati.

The board voted unanimously Wednesday to ask for a ruling on which body gets to set policies for the district.

The sewer district is owned by the county but operated by the city.

The sides have been at odds over hiring and procurement policies instituted by the city. County Commissioners argue the policies are unfair and in some cases illegal. City attorneys and a majority of council members disagree.

Provided, City of Cincinnati

 

Provided, City of Cincinnati

A Charter Review Task Force is being formed to do the first comprehensive review of Cincinnati’s city charter since it was adopted nearly 90 years ago.

Council member Kevin Flynn, who chairs council’s rules committee, put out the call Tuesday for people to volunteer to serve on the task force, which will be expected to meet regularly for six months to a year before recommending charter changes to city council.

Not surprisingly, more homeless people have been seeking refuge from the bitter cold temperatures at Cincinnati's winter shelter. 

About 60 beds are used at the Drop Inn Center and another 40 are located at Prince of Peace Church in Over-the-Rhine.  They are available from December through February.  

Officials told a city council committee Monday so far this winter about 600 different people have stayed at the shelter.  That's the same number served all of last winter.  The majority of them are males and range in age from 18 to 59. 

Howard Wilkinson

Cincinnati has nearly seen the end of brownouts in fire stations, with the addition of 41 new fire recruits who graduated last week and a department overtime budget of $2.5 million, Mayor John Cranley said in a city hall press conference Monday.

The new recruits will reduce the number of brownouts of fire equipment from five per day to anywhere from two to zero per day.

But Cranley and Fire Chief Richard Braun said in a city hall press conference Monday that is not good enough.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Cincinnati Public Schools and the City of Cincinnati are joining forces. A new initiative called ACES -  Alliance for Community and Educational Success - aims to find ways the two can collaborate to improve schools and communities.

Howard Wilkinson

In an effort to stem the homicides that have plagued the city first the first of the year, Cincinnati police will increase police overtime, hire officers away from other departments, add a recruit class and revive a gang unit, Mayor Cranley and Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said this morning.

“We want people of this city to know that help is on the way,’’ Cranley said at a city hall press conference packed with neighborhood and community leaders, council members and police officers.


Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners say they're willing to work with the city but when it comes to making Metropolitan Sewer District decisions, they're in charge.

In a resolution passed Wednesday the board agreed to set inclusion goals similar to the aim of the city's Responsible Bidder ordinance. The county says that ordinance is unfair. It also dislikes the city's Local Preference policy and says it's illegal.

Update 12/18/13 @ 9:30 PM: 

Cincinnati Council will likely vote Thursday on whether the city's controversial streetcar project will continue. 

Construction has been on hold since December 4th.  Now the group will decide whether to let work resume or finally pull the plug on the plan. 

So far the city has spent $34 million on the streetcar project.  An independent audit firm reported Wednesday it will cost anywhere from $16 to $46 million to cancel the streetcar or about $69 million to complete it. 

Jay Hanselman

A task force could soon be reviewing Cincinnati's city charter and coming up with recommendations to bring it up to date.  Council's Rules and Audit Committee approved the study Tuesday.  

Chairman Kevin Flynn said the action is long overdue.

“We always have approached the charter piece meal rather than comprehensively, so I think it is something will be good,” Flynn said.

  Cincinnati’s new mayor and city council were sworn in Sunday, and, as expected, most of their focus this week has been on the streetcar. Just yesterday, council voted to suspend construction while an audit is done to determine the costs involved in continuing or abandoning the project. We hear arguments for stopping the project from Vice Mayor David Mann and Council Member Kevin Flynn.

Cincinnati Council will go another week without a set of official rules to guide its activities.

Rules Committee Chairman Kevin Flynn delayed a vote Tuesday on a document he created and presented to council members Sunday.

"This is a first draft," Flynn said. "It's not the rules of Kevin Flynn, it's the result of Council. So I want all members of Council to weigh-in on these rules, to make suggestions to make them better."

Flynn said that how the group will "get the best rules to govern ourselves over the next four years.

Jay Hanselman

Sunday was a day of celebration and promises of cooperation, as the new mayor, Democrat John Cranley, and nine city council members were sworn into office in dual ceremonies at City Hall and the National Underground Freedom Center.

Monday, the celebrating will be over and the spirit of cooperation that hung over Sunday’s event will be put to the test; as the new council confronts its most contentious issue – Cranley’s desire to stop the $133 million streetcar project.

It’s a truism in politics: Running for office is the relatively easy part; the governing part is where it gets a little tricky.

John Cranley, the Democrat and former councilman who is sworn into office as Cincinnati’s 69th mayor today, has been around long enough to know this.

He came out of the November 5 election with a big win – 16 percentage points over rival and fellow Democrat Roxanne Qualls.

And he came out like a ball of fire.

Scuttle the parking lease deal?

No problem.

Cincinnati  Mayor-elect John Cranley Friday released his list of city council committees and who will be the chairpersons of those committees.  The full Council could approve them Sunday. 

The new streetcar committee is scheduled to meet Monday at noon.  A press release said the group will "consider a proposal aimed at pausing streetcar spending and implementing a comprehensive, objective review of the project in order to determine the true cost of cancellation vs. continuation."

Jay Hanselman

Workers at Cincinnati City Hall are getting ready for a new mayor and council to take office Sunday.

The Cincinnati Council session Tuesday was the last for Mayor Mark Mallory, City Manager Milton Dohoney and Council members Roxanne Qualls, Laure Quinlivan and Pam Thomas.  Much of the meeting was devoted to goodbyes for each.

Mallory could not seek re-election this year because of term limits.  He spoke about his time in office.

Mann & Mann law firm

Newly-elected Cincinnati council member David Mann has held the mayor's office before, and now he will serve as new mayor John Cranley's vice mayor.

Cranley announced Mann as his vice mayor Monday afternoon in a press conference at Mann's downtown law office.

Mann served on council from 1974 to 1991, and had three years as mayor at a time when the mayor's office was mostly a ceremonial position.

Both Cranley and Mann are Democrats. Cranley said Mann is someone he can work well with.

Update 11/21/13 @ 5:20PM:  Cincinnati mayor-elect John Cranley is not being swayed by the city administration's cost estimates to cancel the streetcar project.

“It doesn’t cost $40 million to say stop,” Cranley said Thursday during a press conference.  “It doesn’t take a year to get out of this madness.  We’re going to immediately put a halt to this project.”

Cranley is still promising a Council vote the first week of December to temporarily stop the streetcar project.

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council will likely approve a modified chronic nuisance ordinance Wednesday that should settle a lawsuit filed against the city on the issue.  

“This is an agreement that the city and that particular property owner were able to work out,” said Wendell Young, chairman of Council’s public safety committee.  “It appears that the other property owners think this is also a good deal, so there should not be a lot of controversy about this.”

Light travels at the speed of 186,000 miles per second.

Cincinnati’s mayor-elect, John Cranley, has been pushing that speed limit in the 12 days since he won a landslide victory in a low-turnout election.

He has put together a seven-member majority of the new nine-member council to convince the Port Authority of Greater Cincinnati to back off issuing $85 million in bonds for the long-term lease of Cincinnati’s parking meters and five city garages – a deal that would have put that money into the city’s coffers as an upfront payment.

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council's Budget and Finance Committee holds one of its last scheduled meetings Tuesday before a new mayor and council take office on December 1st.  The group faces a busy agenda since many sessions in September and October were canceled.

The group is expected to approve several incentives packages that will bring new jobs and new housing to the city.  

  Cincinnati voters had their say on Tuesday, we get a rundown on the winners and losers in yesterday’s races from Howard Wilkinson and Jay Hanselman.

Michael Keating

This week WVXU Political Reporter Howard Wilkinson talks about the money being spent in the Cincinnati Mayor and Council races.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Could a Metropolitan Sewer District stalemate between Cincinnati and Hamilton County be coming to an end?

The sides have been at odds over city-enacted hiring policies. The county specifically doesn't like a responsible bidder provision requiring contractors to graduate apprentices (at least one per year for five years).

Councilman Chris Seelbach is proposing a solution he thinks the county will like. He says he's willing to throw out the apprentice graduation requirement in favor of an incentive program.

A group that wants to change the pension system for city of Cincinnati employees has enough valid signatures to place a charter amendment on the November ballot, according to the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

The group, Cincinnati Pension Reform, turned in 16,116 signatures and 9,726 turned out to be valid signatures of Cincinnati voters. They needed 7,443 to make the ballot.

The group paid nearly $70,000 to a California firm that specializes in putting paid petition circulators on the ground in Cincinnati and gathered the signatures within a few weeks.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials continue to hash out a compromise on several hiring and bidding policies related to the Metropolitan Sewer District.

An August 1 deadline has come and gone, meaning a city moratorium on the policies has expired. That led County Commissioners Wednesday to halt the bidding process for an upcoming project.

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