Lacking support, mayor postpones vote on city manager resignation deal

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Mayor John Cranley removed the city manager's $424,000 resignation package from Wednesday's City Council agenda just before the meeting began Wednesday.

That means Harry Black will stay on the job at least another week unless he decides to go.

"It's business as usual for us. We are doing the work that is expected of us and we will continue to do that," Black told reporters after the meeting outside Council chambers.

The mayor didn't have the votes to pass Black's buyout.

It would have failed in a 4-4 split vote. Councilman Chris Seelbach is out of the country planning his wedding. Had he been there, he was expected to oppose it, quashing it anyway.

But Cranley said he planned to put the deal back on the agenda for a vote at next week's meeting.

Council did pass a whistleblower ordinance Wednesday protecting city employees who may come forward with issues or concerns about Black - and it includes other city leaders such as the mayor and council members.

In an interview Wednesday morning, Councilman P.G. Sittenfield said Cranley may now be open to an outside party coming in to review the dispute and facts and give Council an independent assessment.

Sittenfeld privately met with the mayor before meeting, along with fellow council members Tamaya Dennard and David Mann.

Black's buyout passed Council's Law & Public Safety Committee Monday to move onto a full Council vote Wednesday, but the majority remain opposed.

They are calling for an independent review of the facts, an outside party who would work pro bono and give then a report in about two weeks.

Cranley asked Harry Black to quit earlier this month after:

  • Black forced out the second highest-ranking official in the Cincinnati Police Department and entered into an estimated $400,000 separation agreement without advance warning to the mayor or council.
  • Black said a "rogue element" was "corrupt" within the Cincinnati Police Department in an attempt to undermine Chief Eliot Isaac. He also alleged racism in the top police ranks against himself and the chief because they are African-American. He called for federal prosecutors to investigate.

Five days after the mayor asked Black to leave, Cranley explained why: He said the city manager he hired four years ago had a pattern of unprofessional behavior including:

  • taking employees into a strip club during an out-of-town business trip and then making other employees, including the female city solicitor, uncomfortable by talking about it during a taxi cab ride.
  • making late-night, threatening phone calls to employees
  • retaliating against employees who raise concerns. Five have sued the city and city manager in recent months

Related story:

Three days later, on Saturday, Cranley announced he and Black had signed a $424, 767 resignation deal that would give Black 18 months of salary, 10 months more than his contact stipulates.

Specifically, the buyout requires the city to:

  • Pay Black $261,283 and his unused sick and vacation time within two weeks of March 17, the date the agreement was signed
  • Pay Black another $27,080 a month for six consecutive months, beginning May 1
  • Pay $9,599 to Black's retirement fund
  • Give Black his lap top and cell phone
  • Give Black a positive letter of recommendation
  • Not disparage Black (And Black cannot disparage Cranley)
  • Pay Black's attorney up to $6,000 for fees from working on the settlement
  • Officially end his employment Wednesday

Previous stories:

Memos reveal why assistant police chief was ousted

Mayor calls special council meeting to act on whistleblower protection

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

Draft audit of CPD overtime: 'Intentional actions to maximize compensation'

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