$424K city manager buyout passes council committee, expected to be defeated in full council vote

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A $424,000 resignation deal City Manager Harry Black and Mayor John Cranley agreed to over the weekend easily cleared its first round of approval Monday morning, but still faces defeat in a full council vote later this week.

Three members of Council's Law & Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the deal, which would give Black 18 months of salary, 10 more than called for in his contract.

They are: Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman, Councilwoman Amy Murray and Councilman Jeff Pastor, who brokered the deal late last week.

The board agreed the buyout would be cheaper for city taxpayers than dragging out the ongoing controversy and involving a mediator.  They also said the dispute should be worked out for the good of the city and so leaders can move onto other pressing matters.

Now, Murray said, the city is "at a standstill."

"We still have the issue that started all of this, the police overtime audit and that has been completely overshadowed in all of this," she noted.

Smitherman said the separation package would allow the city manage to leave Cincinnati with "dignity." He also stressed the buyout was reached and passed Monday in a bipartisan effort.

"The city manager has signed an agreement saying he wants to leave. How do you hold him hostage and say stay?" Smitherman asked.

Both Pastor and Smitherman compared the deal to similar ones worked out with other city managers and CEOs of corporations.

But the buyout is expected to be soundly defeated in a full Council vote at their next meeting, 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The majority of council has instead called for outside counsel working pro bono to gather facts and present findings in two weeks.

"The thing I am not going to sign off on is to dip our hands into the pocket of the taxpayers and take $500,000 of their money," said Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

CouncilwomanTamaya Dennard wrote in a Facebook post Monday: "Our city can't pay hundreds of thousands of dollars every time we have a personality dispute, period."

The mayor asked Black to resign earlier this month amid controversies and allegations over intimidation of city workers, inappropriate behavior and the abrupt removal without explanation of the Cincinnati Police Department's second highest-ranking official.

Black also alleged "a rogue element" was "corrupt" in the police department due to racism in the top ranks against himself and Chief Eliot Isaac, both of whom are African-American, after a draft audit of police overtime was leaked to the media.

Dennard also said in her Facebook post "The Fraternal Order of Police can't run our city. The power is with the people and we must never forget that."

Sgt. Dan Hils, FOP president, wrote in response in his own Facebook post: "Whatever happens in this power struggle at City Hall, I ask that racial hand grenades stop being thrown into our agency."

Previous stories:

Amy Murray: 'There has to be some change'

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

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

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