Dispute about strip club trip now part of Cincinnati Mayor, City Manager back-and-forth

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Was City Manager Harry Black in the wrong when he went to a strip club with other city employees during an out-of-town work trip? He says no.

Mayor John Cranley says yes, and wants him out of office.

As FOX19 NOW has reported, Cranley wants Black to resign Cranley says is a pattern of behavior over several years that has been abusive, threatening, and in some cases retaliatory and unprofessional.

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Two years ago, Black, Cranley, police chief Eliot Isaac, and a contingent of other city and county law enforcement leaders were in Colorado to learn about Denver's ShotSpotter technology, something Cincinnati was considering using at the time. Afterward, Black says they went back to the hotel, freshened up, went to dinner, and made a second stop at another establishment.

"We might have had a couple of drinks there. We left. Then our group broke off," Black said.

And that's where the controversy began.

"I, along with the police chief and the two assistant police chiefs, we decided to continue to walk toward the hotel. And then we decided to get another round of drinks and we saw this place directly across the street from the hotel -- and it was just convenient and it also happened to be a topless bar."

That topless bar? La Boheme Gentlemen's Cabaret.

Its website includes racy photos and videos.

"It was not our intent to go to a place like that. But it was there. It was convenient. We were tired. And we went in. We had, perhaps, a beer. We left, went back to the hotel because we had an early flight the next day," Black said. "Again this was on our time. We used our money."

But in a statement to FOX19 NOW, Cranley said this:

"I think it was deeply inappropriate for Mr. Black, as the boss, to recruit subordinates to go to a strip club."

Cranley also alleges Black asked the city's female solicitor Paula Boggs Muething to go with them.

"There's nothing illegal," Black said. "There's really nothing immoral or unethical about going into an establishment like that. That's a legal establishment.  Again -- we did not seek it out. It was convenient and across the street from the hotel. And we just went in."

Cranley says after hearing about the night, he confronted Black, saying it was inappropriate and that Black apologized.

Cranley has called for a special meeting Friday, calling for council to pass an ordinance that would protect employees who wish to come forward and tell their stories about Black.

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