Criminal investigation against Councilman accused of using racial slur closed

Councilman Chris Bortz (Source: City of Cincinnati)
Councilman Chris Bortz (Source: City of Cincinnati)
"It's just unfortunate when you get into this trying to help the City and you get your political opponents calling you the nastiest, meanest personal things that people can say about you."

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Former City Councilman Jeff Berding is speaking-up for his friend, Chris Bortz, after a City Sanitation worker accused Councilman Bortz, of hurling a racial slur at him.

The accuser, however, dropped the claim against Bortz, late Friday afternoon.

But in the minds of many, the damage was already done.

Bortz had very little to say about all this, other than he felt it inappropriate to comment beyond a statement he'd released earlier .

We did get a call back from Bortz's accuser, Shawn Allen. We asked him several questions and he said he would call us back, but never returned his call or picked-up, the several more times we tried calling his number.

Berding said this smacks of much more than just a misunderstanding and knows too well, how cut-throat city politics can get.

"When I was on City Council, I had people mail me pictures with bullets in people's heads and make death threats against us, me and my family."

So, this attack on his friend of more than a decade is no surprise.

"Well, it's an election year and these are union members angry with Chris Bortz," Berding said. "Because he wanted to put the garbage service out to bid for private companies to bid on it, in order to reduce costs for the taxpayers of the city."

Berding said this false accusation was tantamount to a political "hit".

"He went up to Columbus and testified in favor of Senate Bill 5, as a way to lower cost of government to taxpayers, and obviously, they're angry at him," he said.

The police report reads, Thursday, Bortz got upset because Allen had been blowing the horn, to get Bortz to move his car, so his garbage truck could squeeze by, on a narrow Mount Adams street.

Allen claimed Bortz, not only used a racial slur against him, but also threatened to shoot him.

"You've got somebody who makes an accusation, suddenly they pull it away, damage done?," we asked. "Absolutely the damage is done," Berding said. "And they know that."

Bortz released this statement:

"The allegations made against me by the Cincinnati Sanitation worker are without merit. Anyone that knows me knows that I am neither a racist nor menacing."

The NAACP did not return my phone calls or emails, but did post this statement on their website:

"The City of Cincinnati adopted a zero tolerance policy for any City employee using a racial slur. This policy applies to Council members. The Cincinnati NAACP's investigation will move forward even if the City of Cincinnati ignores the allegations," said Christopher Smitherman, President of the Cincinnati NAACP.

Berding said, the city should not let this go.

"I would hope the City Manager would look into that," Berding said. "Because certainly we don't need that kind of employee at City Hall, who would make a false accusation against a really honorable Council member, purely because the sanitation worker disagrees with him on some of these union issues."

No word if Allen will face any legal repercussions or disciplinary action, for making such a strong accusation, then retracting it.

Ethnic intimidation is a fifth degree felony.

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