CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The true character of Cincinnati City Council’s self-proclaimed “Gang of Five” has come out, exposed in the release of their secret text messages, and it isn’t pretty, a prominent local group of African-American ministers announced this week.
“As people of faith, we see the political atmosphere today in our nation. We are saddened that in this city we call home, we find ourselves divided and insensitive to the needs of our fellow man. As children of God, we are to seek peace and civility,” reads a statement from Rev. Mark Bomar, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati and Vicinity.
“The ‘Gang of Five’ are lawmakers who broke the very law they are sworn to uphold,” the group’s statement later reads.
"They left our city’s taxpayers responsible for more than $170,000 in legal fees. Several members of the ‘Gang of Five’ insulted members of their very own council. They insulted African-American leaders in our city such as Councilman Jeff Pastor, Kelli Prather, and Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman.
"Then the group trivialized mental health, when many in Cincinnati struggle daily with those issues and when teen suicide is on the rise. The “Gang of Five” calls itself ‘inclusive’ but have been nothing but divisive. We are incredibly saddened by this behavior and we denounce this type of divisive language and subconscious racism.
“The true character of City Council has come out.
"Council members spoke on platforms to change this city and be inclusive, not insulting. Lastly, as President John F. Kennedy said: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
The gang’s secret text messages came out last week as part of a lawsuit settlement.
They were released shortly after a judge ordered the ‘Gang’ - P.G. Sittenfeld, Tamaya Dennard, Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Wendell Young - all into court.
These messages are more candid - and snarky - than ones on a group string released last year.
The latest texts are between smaller groups of council members, and many are one-on-one.
They are more personal, with eye-raising insults, name-calling (Sittenfeld refers to Councilman Jeff Pastor at one point as a "psychotic salty whiny nut”), plots and just plain gossip.
Messages exchanged by Sittenfeld and Seelbach have come under criticism for accusing Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman of using his wife’s illness for political gain.
Pamela Smitherman, 48, died of breast cancer Jan. 15.