FOX19 Investigates: City leaders living outside Cincinnati

FOX19 Investigates: City leaders living outside Cincinnati
"I firmly believe the people who run the city, should live in the city." - Wendell Young.
"I firmly believe the people who run the city, should live in the city." - Wendell Young.

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - "I firmly believe the people who run the city, should live in the city," said Council Member Wendell Young.

And among those who Young feels run the city—city department directors. Those directors earn six figure salaries paid for by Cincinnati taxpayers, lead large departments and call the shots that directly impact residents.

That's why Young and members of Cincinnati City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last May stating that "senior executive officers who hold the titles of City Manager, Assistant City Manager or Director should be required to reside in the city of Cincinnati while holding such fiduciary positions," saying that "city residency is an essential component of such officers' ability to perform their employment responsibilities."

View the residency ordinance here

But a FOX19 Investigates look at the addresses those department directors provide for their residency found some were not complying.

The city supplied a listing of the streets where department directors purportedly live, and through further investigation, FOX19 determined their exact reported addresses.

One of them, Tony Parrott, head of the Metropolitan Sewer District, makes more than $180,000 a year, and supplied an address on Westwood Avenue.

However, a city employee discovered the address Parrott supplied is a vacant lot. Parrott's actual residence is in Butler County.

At that home in Butler County, Parrott's wife confirmed that he in fact lived in the home and knew there is a requirement for city directors to live within the city limits.

And then there's Kenneth Glenn, the Director of Citizen Complaints and Internal Audit who earns $119,000 a year. The address he provided to the city is in the 4500 block of Whetsel.

But neighbors at the address said he never lived there.

In fact, the Dees family has lived there for the past 30 years. George Dees is actually Glenn's brother-in-law. On property records for Glenn's actual home in West Chester, his wife is listed as Shirley A. Dees-Glenn.

Georgetta Kelly, who runs the city's Human Resources Department, gives an address on Probasco Street. According to the city's website, Kelly specializes in "rules compliance."

Kelly said she lives in the bottom floor of an apartment building with broken out windows near the University of Cincinnati campus. Kelly makes $135,000 a year.

A mailbox at that Probasco Street apartment does have her name on it, and Kelly said in an email to FOX19 that she has lived there for a little over a year and has a lease agreement along with utility bills.  She also said that address is her primary address for IRS purposes and that she votes in Hamilton County.

But neighbors said they have never seen a woman coming or going from Kelly's apartment.

Property records show Kelly owns multiple homes in Montgomery County, including a gated home in Dayton where her husband lives.

And then there's Willie Carden, who makes $137,000 running the city's parks. Carden lives in a home that records show he built in 2009 for $402,000. Carden pays his property taxes to Colerain Township.

Several days after FOX19 visited those homes, the city's Director of Communications, Meg Olberding, sent an email which said she was finalizing an email letter to FOX19 "that documents residency requirements were overturned on appeal in the courts."

That same day, Human Resources Director Georgetta Kelly sent an email directly to all department directors requesting they forward addresses directly to her.

Parrot responded to Kelly that she should use his actual address in West Chester. He also said, "Call me tomorrow if you need to discuss."

FOX19 obtained Glenn's response, which also states that he tried to edit his address in the city's HR system but was unsuccessful. He said, "Please have your staff make the necessary change." Glenn also changed his address to his real residence in West Chester.

"If your word is not good, you are no good. So if they are actually lying, their words are no good," Council Member Charlie Winburn said in response to the investigation.

"For whatever the reason, either the administration was unaware or the administration was misled as to where they live. In both cases, I find it troublesome," Young said.

And as a response to the FOX19 investigation, Young has demanded Interim City Manager Scott Stiles launch an internal investigation into those directors.

In response, Stiles sent a memo to all council members last week stating, "It is my understanding that verbal waivers/understandings, and/or agreements were made in the past with a few department directors related to expectations around the 'residency requirements.'"

Olberding also claimed Parrott and Glenn were promoted to director positions from within, and because of that, weren't required to move.

But FOX19 Legal Analyst Mike Allen said neither argument holds water.

"The ordinance rules and the ordinance to me looking at it on his face is pretty clear. If you are in a position like these people are in, you've got to reside within the city of Cincinnati and somebody dropped the ball at city hall," Allen said.

On Friday, a city spokesperson said they discovered a city administrative code which doesn't technically classify Carden or Glenn as a director.

But when asked specifically for a list of directors affected by the residency requirement, the city provided both of their names. Additionally, both report to the city directors' meeting every Tuesday morning.

FOX19 reached out to Kelly, Glenn, Carden and Parrott for interviews. All declined our requests.

Charlie Winburn believes the people who live and work in Cincinnati deserve better.

"I believe these directors should be given 90-120 days to move within city limits or we will accept their resignation," Winburn said.

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