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Cranley/Black Separation Agreement Approved, But Here's Why It's Likely To Fail

City Manager Harry Black (right) and Mayor John Cranley are locked in a dispute over Black's tenure.
Provided/City of Cincinnati
City Manager Harry Black (right) and Mayor John Cranley are locked in a dispute over Black's tenure.

Cincinnati Council's Law and Public Safety Committee has unanimously approved a nearly $424,000 separation agreement for City Manager Harry Black.

But five Democratic council members said Sunday they still oppose such a deal, so the ordinance approving the agreement is likely to fail when the full council votes Wednesday.

The three members on the Law and Public Safety Committee say the deal is the best outcome to end the current crisis at City Hall.

"At this point, what we're looking for is for the five people who are saying 'no' to this, for them to put forth what their plan is in order to say 'How do we bring this to resolution?'" Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman said Monday morning.

Council members Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, and Wendell Young released a statement to the media Sunday, a day after Cranley and Black announced they had reached a deal.

"Our position has not changed," the statement said. "We do not support an increased buyout or believe that's responsible to the taxpayers."

The group is still calling for a collaborative process and working with all stakeholders on the issues.

"The notion that the relationship between these two men has gone sour, would lead to us reaching into the taxpayers pocket and demanding $500,000 extra from them, to me really offends my sense of fiscal responsibility," said council member P.G. Sittenfeld.

The five Democrats want a council majority to appoint an outside special counsel to investigate concerns raised by Mayor John Cranley about Black and to examine Black's responses. The special counsel would submit a report to City Council.

Cranley and Black announced the separation agreement in statements Saturday evening. The deal came more than a week after Cranley asked Black to resign, and just days after the mayor announced he was beginning the process to terminate the city manager.

The proposed agreement calls for Black to receive 18 months of salary; $261,283 would be paid in a lump sum within two weeks, and the rest would be paid in six monthly installments of $27,080.83.

Black would also get $9,599.98 for deferred compensation; city-paid COBRA health care coverage for 18 months; payment for accrued sick and vacation time; and up to $6,000 for his attorney fees. He would also get to keep his city-issued cell phone and laptop computer. 

The city would also provide Black with "a positive letter of recommendation, to be signed by Mayor Cranley."

Cranley wants to get rid of the city manager he brought here from Baltimore three-and-a-half years ago because he says he believes Black has engaged in a pattern of verbally abusive and disrespectful behavior toward city employees.

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.