Cincinnati City Council

Michael Keating

The ongoing dispute between Cincinnati and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority about the use of the city’s transit fund is still dragging on. 

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls spoke during a special Budget and Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

"Members of the committee may remember that we passed a one-month budget for SORTA a number weeks ago," Qualls said.  "This is another one month budget for the period of February."

The city argues the fund can be used for any transit purpose. 

Slowly but surely, the 2013 race for Cincinnati City Council – the first in which council members will be elected for four years terms – is taking shape.

Not that there is any hurry. The filing deadline for council candidates is not until August.

But the city’s three political parties – and the candidates themselves – can’t wait that long to get campaigns up and running.

A Cincinnati City Council election is a non-partisan election – meaning that no party designations appear on the ballot next to candidates’ names.

Amy Murray - who served as an appointed Cincinnati City Council member in 2011 before losing her seat in that year's election - has become the first non-incumbent Republican to declare her council candidacy.

Murray, of Hyde Park, will kick off her campaign Wednesday with a 7 p.m. gathering at Price Hill Chili at 4920 Glenway Ave.

She first ran for council in 2009, failing to win one of the nine spots on council. But, in January 2011, after then-council member Chris Monzel became a Hamilton County commissioner, Murray was appointed to his council seat.

Democrat David Mann - a former Cincinnati mayor and congressman whose name hasn't been on the ballot since 1994 - is seriously considering a political comeback this year as a candidate for Cincinnati City Council.

"I've described myself as a recovering politician all these years; and maybe I am not,'' said Mann, with a laugh.

The 73-year-old lawyer told WVXU Wednesday that he still has "a passion for public service, which I think is a great privilege. And I think I have something to offer."

Mann said he will make a final decision "very soon."

Jay Hanselman / Melrose YMCA

Some members of the Melrose YMCA in Walnut Hills are asking Cincinnati officials to help restore hours at the facility.

About two dozen speakers, including Victoria Evans, voiced their concerns Wednesday to the weekly City Council meeting.

In decades of writing column, I don’t think I have ever started one on a personal note.

But with this most interesting year coming to a close, and a new one about to begin, I will, if you will indulge me.

For me, it has been quite a year.

After 29 years, six months and two days at the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing on politics and a myriad of other subjects, I took an early retirement offer from the Enquirer in April, leaving behind working on a daily basis with good friends and  opportunities to do interesting journalism too numerous to count.

In 2013, the Cincinnati mayor’s race is likely to suck most of the air out of the room, as it has since the city adopted direct election of the mayor in 2001.

But it is not the only important race in Cincinnati next year.

There is this little thing called a city council election; and it will be vastly different this year than any other since the city charter was created in the 1920s.

As of now, Cincinnati voters will be electing nine council members for four-year terms, instead of the two-year terms we have had since 1927.

Michelle Dillingham, a former aide to the late city councilman David Crowley, announced Friday she will be a candidate for Cincinnati City Council in 2013.

Dillingham, who is from Kennedy Heights, will seek the Democratic Party's endorsement in the council race.

She is currently working for a regional labor-management fund "to tackle industry issues of mutual interest" to business and labor, "such as transportation funding, family-supporting wages and workforce development," according to her campaign website,

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council will spend the rest of the week completing work on the 2013 city budget. 

About 40 people spoke during the final public hearing Monday night in Corryville.

There were again a number of speakers who asked Council to preserve funding for Media Bridges.  It operates several cable-access channels and a small radio station in the city.

Executive Director Tom Bishop said turnout for the group should show Council Members the value of the service.

Jay Hanselman

Could Cincinnati's massive general fund budget deficit be gone?  It could be, but it comes with a big if.

Earlier reports suggested City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. would have to close a $34 to $40 million deficit.  

But during council committee meeting last week at least a couple Council Members dropped hints his plan will again close the deficit with no layoffs for city workers.  

Reportedly the manager could close a large portion of the deficit with a sizeable up-front payment in a contract to lease the city's parking system to a private operator.