Amy Murray: 'There has to be some change'

Amy Murray: 'There has to be some change'

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Whether Mayor John Cranley and City Manager Harry Black work out a resignation agreement or Black stays, something has to change, Councilwoman Amy Murray said Wednesday.

"What is happening now is not good for the city," she said in an interview with FOX19 NOW Wednesday. "It has not been a good week for the city. We need to be doing better than this. We have to get our ducks in order as soon as we can and move in a positive direction again

"They need to work out whatever is going on. We have to have an effective working relationship between the city manager and the mayor. We have other priorities we need to be focused on."

She called the current events "drama" and a "distraction" that is delaying City Council from looking into a very real and important issue that stared all of this: a draft audit of police overtime indicating taxpayer dollars were being misspent on employees intentionally maximizing compensation.

Her comments came before Wednesday's City Council meeting, the first time they have publicly gathered since news broke Friday that the mayor asked for Black's resignation.

On Tuesday, confusion and chaos erupted when both men issued conflicting statements whether Black agreed to resign. And so far, a majority of city coucil members are not supporting Black's ouster.

Cranley sought the city manager's resignation Friday after Black abruptly forced out the second highest-ranking police official, Executive Assistant Chief David Bailey, 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. It was the second leak of confidential police documents in the last 90 days, according to a memo from Police Chief Eliot Isaac to Black. The other leak involved a memo FOX19 NOW obtained in January about an ongoing internal investigation.

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.

Murray is troubled by Black calling for federal prosecutors to investigate.

"I have a big issue when I'm seeing in the press the city manager is saying there is corruption in the police department," she said. "I have certainly not seen anything that makes me think that.

"If they think there is corruption, they need to let us know how so we can deal with it," she said, "but I have not seen or heard that from any of my sources in the police dept.

"That's a lofty charge and if you make that charge you have to prove it or follow up. We need to have more information. I don't know that leaks constitutes corruption. Some people would say it's whistle-blowing because they are concerned about waste of government money. Council has not received any information. We have no report of allegations where is happening. You can't lobby allegations without follow up or you shouldn't. Those are really serious allegations."

She's also concerned that a longtime police official, Assistant Chief Dave Bailey, was forced out after 31 years without one shred of documentation being shown to the public or council. Council and the mayor were not even consulted or warned ahead of time and she realizes he was in his right to force him out but council needs more information obviously

"There's a lot of issues here that I think council needs answers to" she said. "Openness and transparency is what keeps public institutions running smoothly. We are the ones who need to be the watchdogs."

She is troubled as well by a pattern of city employees filing retaliation lawsuits against the city and Black. The latest one, the fifth in recent months, was filed Tuesday.

"If you have city employees that are filing lawsuits you need to see if there is an issue there," Murray said. "We owe it to the public and employees to look into it. If people are concerned about things going on in their department and they have issues they should be able to speak freely about it because that's how you improve city operations. I don't' want people to be afraid to come forward and express concerns."

Has she passed the point of no return with Black?

"I don't know that we are there yet," she said.

But, she said, city unions are clearly having issues working with him, noting that FOP president, Sgt. Dan Hils, has said after everything that has happened it would be very hard for him to move forward and continue working with Black.

"I think when you have an organization that is not working well, something has to give," Murray said. "The system we have in place now is clearly not working with the city manager and the mayor, so there has to be some change.

"I want to wait until I have all the information but what I am looking at now is we have to have change. Whether that's a change in attitude or the mayor and the city manager being able to work better together, but the way it is right now is just not working. If the city manager and mayor are able to come to some conclusion I will support that."

She said she will support a resignation package, upon review.

"If they are able to come together with a separation package I will support that once I see the terms of the package. I would be inclined to support it. I want to make sure that it's reasonable, but I think that would be the best thing for the city if they are able to either come to a conclusion to work better together or a settlement."

Murray has had a good relationship with both men and is dismayed by developments over the last week.

"It's disappointing. I feel I am in a unique position because I've had a very strong relationship with both the mayor and with the city manager," she said. "I've been supportive of both of them. This is a difficult time.

"He's made some really good changes. (He brought) data analytics and putting powerful performance analytics into all of our departments. It's easy to make decisions when you have really clear data. I feel like we've always had a very clear communication between the city manager and council. He provides us with a  lot of data."

Previous stories:

City's first black police chief 'taken aback' at claims of racism, 'rogue element' in CPD

P.G. Sittenfeld backs city manager, police chief

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