CPS union leader: Developers report pay to play in city

CPS union leader: Developers report pay to play in city
CPS is investigating after student records were faxed to the wrong number. (FOX19 file)

CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - The leader of the union representing teachers in Cincinnati Public Schools told City Council Monday developers in Mount Auburn and Madison Place have "openly" told her an unnamed city official is requesting campaign contributions in exchange for tax abatements.

"They (developers) are paying money to have meetings to have their abatements approved,” Cincinnati Federation of Teachers President Julie Sellers told Council's Budget and Finance Committee. "And so to me, that sounds like it is almost a pay to play for developers and that's why you need to have some oversight on how these abatements are given out."

"That's illegal," Councilman Chris Seelbach told her a short time later during the meeting. "You need to get your house in order," she responded.

"These developers need to go to the police or the prosecutor," Seelbach said.

The allegation came as city leaders discussed Cincinnati's tax abatement policy.

But Councilman David Mann said it's too thin at this point for him to take it serious.

"If there's specific allegations, make them," he said. "But generalized statements leave me cold."

A city spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Neither did a spokeswoman for Mayor John Cranley or other council members.

"Unless there's more specifics, I'm not interested," Mann told FOX19 Monday night.

"If somebody has more specific allegations we can look into that but otherwise we're not going to stop business."He said the allegation caught him by surprise."It was so vague, I didn't give it the time of day."

The school district and city are at odds over the city's tax abatement program.

CPS officials contend they are losing millions annually due to the current policy while city administrators argue they are actually gaining revenue.

The current agreement between the city and school district expires at year’s end.

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