Majority of Council now wants to fire Harry Black

Majority of Council now wants to fire Harry Black

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Harry Black's days as Cincinnati's city manager appear to be almost over.

The majority of City Council - five members - now say they'll vote to fire him if he does not resign.

Councilman Greg Landsman announced Thursday he has changed his mind and now wants to get rid of Black.

"The dysfunction at City Hall clearly needs to end, and we have to be fully focused on fixing the issues with our 911 system," Landsman said in a prepared statement.

"We promised the public we would get this fixed. The Manager is not fully focused on this, and we continue to be distracted by the ongoing saga surrounding the Manager and Mayor. A new city manager alone will not end the dysfunction or solve our 911 issues, but it's an important next step.

"We're all going to have to change – each member of council and the Mayor. The culture of City Hall needs to change. This is our wake up call.

"And every week, until we've made significant progress, council and the mayor must take up the issue of our 911 system – every Wednesday. It's the most important thing we'll do, and it has to be our top priority.

"It's time for change – across the board, and it must include the mayor and council. It must also include a new city manager."

Black tells our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer that he plans to continue to serve his duties and show up for work Friday.

For more than a month, his status as city manager has been at the center of a heated debate.

At first, the majority of council members showed support for Black, despite Mayor John Cranley's call for him to step down because of unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

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That's no longer the case with Landsman joining Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman and Council Members David Mann, Jeff Pastor and Amy Murray to fire Black if he doesn't quit.

"The city manager has brought a lot of positive things to the city, but it's just to the point where it's broken, and we have to move forward. We have to make those tough decisions and move forward," Murray said.

The 911 system is at the city's forefront following the April 10 death of 16-year-old Kyle Plush, who was trapped in a van outside Seven Hills School and called 911 twice pleading for help.

Cincinnati police and a Hamilton County deputy sheriff responded to Kyle;'s first call but did not find him.

On Tuesday, a week into the city's investigation, Police Chief Eliot Isaac said he was not sure if the officers got out of their cruiser to walk around and search for Kyle.

The dispatcher who answered the second call, when the teen gave details about the make and color of the van and said "I'm almost dead," has told her supervisors she didn't hear him, a police report shows.

It's not clear yet why, if it was technical or human error or a combination of both.

As the city's top administrator, Black is in charge of the city's 911 system.

The entire response is under investigation by Cincinnati police, the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office and the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

But Cincinnati's 911 center, which is run by the police department, has been plagued with myriad problems for years.

Black has issued a dozen memos to Council and the mayor outlining some of the problems since he became city manager in September 2014.

Now Black, responding to Landsman's decision, told the Enquirer the investigation into Plush's death isn't over.

"What do we base this on? Do we truly seek the truth? Or do we take action for the sake of taking action?" he said.

FOX19 NOW reached out Thursday to the four council members who have said they will not vote to fire Black: P.G. Sittenfeld, Tamaya Dennard, Chris Seelbach and Wendell Young.

Young was the only one to respond, but said he didn't want to comment yet.

It's not clear when City Council could officially vote on to terminate Black if he doesn't accept a $174,000 resignation deal Council recently approved.

A 24-hour notice must be given for a public meeting to be held, meaning the soonest one could come would be Saturday.

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