City manager has until April 30 to accept buyout deal

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Cincinnati City Council twice voted about the future of the city manager during a special session Thursday.

The session, called by Mayor John Cranley, happened one day after council members rejected an 18-month salary severance package worth $423,000 for city manager Harry Black.

In the first vote Thursday, council rejected a 12-month buyout proposed by Cranley but then voted to approve an eight-month severance package.

Prior to Thursday's vote, Black's contract only allowed for an eight-month severance if he was terminated. Now, Black can receive eight months salary severance if he chooses to resign by April 30.

"We have a professional city manager who is willing to put aside whatever his feelings are in the best interest of the city," said councilman, Wendall Young. Young voted against the buyouts above what is called for in Black's contract.

The city manager's office had no comment Thursday, instead referencing Black's comments before Wednesday's council meeting.

"Being City Manager is an honor and privilege," Black said.  "I would very much like to continue in this capacity as long as my service is desired by this body," he said.

Mayor John Cranley asked Black to resign earlier this month citing what he called "a pattern of unprofessional behavior." Cranley said the behavior included intimidation tactics involving city employees and Black visiting a strip club in Denver with top police officials during a work trip two years ago.

Council passed a "whistleblower ordinance" this month allowing any city worker to come forward who may have a grievance and not be subject to retaliation from Black or any department head.

Young is among a group of five democrats on council who call themselves "The Council Majority." The "Majority', which includes P.G. Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Tamaya Dennard, held firm in their votes against the severance packages.

Five votes are needed on council to approve ordinances. Under the city charter, the mayor does not vote.

David Mann, the only democrat not to side with the "Majority", said he does not agree with his party colleagues.

"I remain firmly to believe that if the city manager and the mayor are not working together you've got a problem and something has to change," said Mann.

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