‘Fiscal Five’ Strike Again
Even as the Cincinnati City Council members who belong to the so-called “Fiscal Five” protest that that group no longer exists and try to distance themselves from one another, the faction jointly issued a memo late Monday to the city manager. The memo wasn’t copied to the other four council members and the mayor, as is the accepted practice at City Hall.
Moreover, the memo appears to contradict a previous decision in which city council unanimously voted to give $353,000 to the University of Cincinnati for implementing the first phase of the Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), a crime-fighting strategy based on a similar plan that helped curb gang violence and shootings in Boston.
Council voted 9-0 on April 4 to approve the spending, in a motion outlining that UC give the money as work is performed to Children’s Hospital Medical Center and David Kennedy, the criminal justice professor who created the Boston plan. Since that time, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. has been negotiating a contract with UC.
In Monday’s memo, however, the Fiscal Five referred to a statement in the 2007-08 operating budget that allocated $1 million for various anti-crime programs. The budget provision stated, “In recognition that police alone cannot solve our crime problem, this budget allocates $1 million to a new coordinated Youth Violence and Gun Initiative effort, headquartered at the Community Police Partnering Center.”
The memo goes on to state about last week’s vote, “As the makers of the motion, we would like to clarify that it was our intent that this new fund be solely administered by the Police Community Partnering Center. Any and all proposals for funding should be submitted to and reviewed by the Community Police Partnering Center.” The memo contains the names and is initialed by each member of the faction: Democrats Jeff Berding and Laketa Cole; Republicans Leslie Ghiz and Chris Monzel; and Charterite Chris Bortz.
Some council members say the memo contradicts the motion passed last week and violates protocol that all members and the mayor receive copies of communications to the city manager. Not only wasn’t Mayor Mark Mallory given a copy, it also circumvented the two Democratic chairmen of the committees that have jurisdiction over the issue — Cecil Thomas, who heads council’s Law and Public Safety Committee, and John Cranley, who heads the Finance Committee.
As recently as late last week, Bortz complained to a reporter that the Fiscal Five no longer existed now that the budget debate was over and that the media shouldn’t use the moniker that its members once encouraged.
“That was the context of a particular debate,” Bortz told Joe Wessels of The Cincinnati Post. “As the conversation changes, all that does is serve to divide.”
The faction’s perception is important as Berding struggles to get the Democratic Party’s endorsement in this fall’s council election.
Some Democrats are upset about a budget proposal floated last winter by the Fiscal Five that called for a $3 million cut for the health department and handing the city’s social services funding over to the United Way and letting that agency decide how to allocate the money. The proposal angered some party members because Berding and Cole hatched the plan without the input of Cranley or other council Democrats.
— Kevin Osborne