Vice Mayor: 'Confidential information' prompted mayor to ask for city manager's resignation

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Information that has not been made public yet prompted Mayor John Cranley to ask City Manager Harry Black to resign, the vice mayor said.

Christopher Smitherman is urging the public to be patient and not jump to conclusions until the mayor publicly explains his reasons for asking the man he hired four years ago to quit.

Smitherman said he reached out to the mayor and privately spoke with him after word broke Friday that the mayor asked for Black's resignation.

"The mayor shared with me confidential information and that information is not reflected in the public yet. And so I am not going to do with I see P.G. Sittenfeld doing, which is making public statements without having all the information," Smitherman said.

"I think the mayor is giving the city manager an opportunity to marinate and think. I just want to give the mayor an opportunity to have conversations with the city manager and see how they are going to resolve the information that they are both are aware of.

"That just shows you that John Cranley cares more about the city, as I do. People are focusing on other things. The mayor is weighing something else and I'll  allow him to bring forth that information and when he believes it is appropriate to do so.

"The manager has to do his own soul searching. It's not just the mayor. You'll have to wait a little longer on this. It's really up to the mayor and the manager. I think this is Monday and we started a discussion that happened on Friday and so it's not like a lot of time has gone by. We are talking about one business day."

Smitherman said he's been "very supportive" of the city manger and his job.

"However, after speaking with the mayor, I've got to weigh all the information that the mayor has provided me. Not all members of council have picked up the phone and called the mayor. They are making public statements, which is bizarre to me without having a direct conversation with the mayor. Pick up the phone and call him."

Smitherman says he plans to talk to the mayor again Monday and get an update.

He did not say if he thinks Black should quit or if he would support a motion to fire him.

The mayor does not have the authority to fire the city manager. That requires a majority of council and, so far, it doesn't appear Cranley has five votes.

Cranley has not explained why he asked Black to leave.

His office issued a statement Saturday affirming the mayor's support for the police chief, but it oddly did not mention Black.

He did not comment Sunday and his office has not responded to requests for comment from him again Monday.

The city manager declined comment Saturday when reporters approached him at the city's annual neighborhood summit. A city spokesman declined comment on his behalf Monday.

The police chief declined comment Monday via a spokeswoman.

It is not clear when or even if Cincinnati's nine council members will vote on the resignation request, but it's expected to be discussed when they meet Wednesday afternoon.

Over the weekend, two other council members besides Sittenfeld publicly supported Black. David Mann and Wendell Young said they think the city manager is doing a good job.

Young, a retired Cincinnati police officer, also was part of a joint statement Saturday morning by several civil rights organizations supporting Black.

It was signed by groups such as Cincinnati NAAP and Black Agenda Cincinnati and African-American leaders including Sen. Cecil Thomas, a retired Cincinnati police detective who also served on city council.

"A smear campaign on the part of Mayor Cranley is unprofessional and beneath the dignity of the office,"it reads in part.

The developments came after a tense week at City Hall and in the Cincinnati Police Department.

Cranley sought the city manager's resignation after Black abruptly forced out Executive Assistant Chief David Bailey on Thursday, apparently without consulting the mayor or council and without publicly stating why.

Black told the 31-year police veteran to leave or be fired, according to the police union president.

The city manager and the chief were upset after a draft of police overtime audit was leaked to the media Tuesday.

The audit revealed "intentional actions to maximize compensation" in the department.

Black was so upset about the leak, he called for federal prosecutors to investigate what he described as a "rogue element" that is corrupt in the police department in an effort to undermine the police chief's authority.

The city manager also claimed some police employees don't want to work with him and the chief because they are black and accused them of "insubordination."

It's not clear who Black was talking about.

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City Manager: Feds should investigate 'rogue element' in Cincinnati Police Department

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