City Council Fights Over Who’s Less Absent

Cincinnati City Council’s recent bickering over the municipal budget has moved onto allegations of hypocrisy and double standards about attendance at public meetings.

City Hall insiders are abuzz about remarks concerning Councilman John Cranley, a Democrat who heads the Finance Committee, and Councilman Chris Monzel, a Republican who is part of a faction that calls itself “the Fiscal Five.”

During the past few weeks, the pair squared off in a debate on how to spend a $4.5 million surplus. Cranley’s group wanted part of the money to fund items like the city’s non-profit, private health clinics, the Cincinnati Human Relations Commission and the recycling program. Monzel’s bloc wanted the money to boost Cincinnati’s cash reserves, which is a “rainy day” fund to cover emergencies and affects the city’s credit rating.

Some Cranley supporters noted Monzel’s absence from this week’s city council meeting on Wednesday. Monzel, who is an engineer with General Electric Aircraft Engines, was away on business in Brazil.

Critics called the absence hypocritical, citing Monzel’s own comments during a budget debate at the Jan. 24 Finance Committee meeting. At the time, the Fiscal Five criticized Cranley’s attendance record as council’s appointee to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI), which coordinates development and transportation projects among counties, cities and townships in the Tristate and helps allocate hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants.

Records show Cranley had attended only eight OKI meetings since his appointment and missed 29 others, a 22 percent attendance rate.

“I think, to me, that when we are called to ask to represent the city of Cincinnati, we need to show up,” said Monzel, according to an official transcript of the meeting. “I understand … about having conflicts, but I think it is important that we set an example that when we are called to participate, that we do show up.”

Cranley has defended his OKI record, stating that worked outside of the meetings on issues affecting Cincinnati’s uptown area and, when absent, sent the city’s engineering director to fill in for him.

Although Cranley’s supporters wanted him to publicly mention Monzel’s absence at Wednesday’s council meeting, he refrained. Still, others around City Hall have been talking about the discrepancy all week.

As an example of how bad the climate has gotten among council members and their staffs, some people this week were blaming December’s protracted budget debate — during which negotiations lasted past midnight in at least two instances — on some council members drinking alcohol in their offices and deliberately delaying discussions.

— Kevin Osborne

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8 Comments on “City Council Fights Over Who’s Less Absent”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    The difference is that Monzel, it seems, is on a business trip. Cranley was away campaigning for another office– which, by the way, he started THE DAY after he was elected to council.

  2. Leslie Ghiz' Dog Lucy Says:

    SO help me understand this one; Cranley misses 60 some meetings at OKI and Monzel misses one Council meeting and some how that is equivalent? Well ok, maybe in some liberal Alica in Wonderland liberal fantasy world.

    Cranley doesn’t even have a real job. Monzel works for one of the major economic driving forces of our region. Oh yeah, it’s the same thing. Nice try Cranbots.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Who cares. Monzel never does anything anyway.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Monzel works for one of the major driving forces for war. GE is a war profiteer that owns “liberal” NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. They pump out propaganda because they love the huge profits the war brings them.

    They have a conflict of interest when it comes to covering corporate polluters, the nuclear industry, war and foriegn policy, tax policies and free trade agreements.

  5. WestEnder Says:

    I don’t think the nature of their outside work is the relevant factore here… what jumps out at me is that Cranley always sent a representative to his meetings and did the work he was supposed to.

    Everybody is busy and has trouble making meetings. There is nothing extraordinary about that; it’s the character of contemporary life in America. When I miss a meeting I make sure to read the minutes or talk with people later and follow up. Others do the same. If that means we have to work overtime then that’s what it means. But that’s what you do to back up your commitment.

    It seems to me the only story here is that Monzel made typical ‘political hack’ statements without bothering to get the details. THAT’S what makes me question his ability as a council member, not one missed meeting (which I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he later briefed himself on).

  6. Rusty Says:

    With out war you fleabag maggots wouldn’t have anything to protest.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Is this the new excuse The Fiscal Phonies will have for backing out of their word on the budget?

    They were drunk so it doesn’t count.

  8. I like to periodically send council members letters, and keep track of who actually takes time to back. Cranley hasn’t responded. Now I’m sure he was busy with the campaign and all that goodness, but if outside affairs take too much time away from Cranley that he can’t even respond to a residents letter, then why is he on the Council in th first place, and whose interest is he really looking out for. I want a Councilman who will focus more on the city than his career.
    Now I may be a little bias because I am running for Council myself, but I don’t believe asking an alected official to focus on the job he was elected to, to be too much to ask.

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