In the aftermath of WCPO's investigation into the Center for Closing the Health Gap, which prompted Mayor John Cranley to order an audit of the nonprofit's spending of city dollars, the reaction by local leaders has been passionate on all sides.
Some support the nonprofit, its CEO and former mayor Dwight Tillery, and believe the audit is the result of racist attacks by media outlets and a political riff leading up to a mayoral and City Council election.
Others support Cranley's call for an audit, but question why the city did not pay closer attention to the outside groups it funds, and actually track their progress.
Here's what local leaders said this week in response to separate reports from WCPO and the Enquirer, which both raised questions about invoices the Health Gap billed to -- and paid for by -- the city.
Rob Richardson, Jr. former chairman of University of Cincinnati board of trustees and candidate for mayor: "We're going to make sure again, no matter who we give money to, that it's going to be fiscally responsible," Richardson said in an interview this week. "It's going to be accountable, and it's going to be transparent. It's not going to be based upon the political relations but what's in the best interest long-term for the city of Cincinnati and its citizens."
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, candidate for mayor: "Unless the administration wants to audit every organization, then I think this audit is bogus and shouldn’t go forward ... I just think it’s shameful to call out one organization, particularly at a time when the black community is saying, We’re coming together and demanding our voices be heard."
Mayor John Cranley: "I don’t know what the worry is about holding taxpayer dollars accountable. I made a suggestion; the manager followed it. If you want to introduce legislation to stop the internal audit, introduce the legislation."
City Manager Harry Black: "We’ve already discovered the deficiencies in the invoicing. We’ve shared that with everyone. No one discovered that – we discovered that ourselves," Black said.
Bishop Bobby Hilton, president of Greater Cincinnati Action Network: "The great work of the Center for Closing the Health Gap must continue. The attacks on blacks are simply evil."
Dwight Tillery, former mayor and councilman, and CEO of the Center for Closing the Health Gap: "Four white reporters who know nothing about the black community, its culture and the health challenges we face nor solutions required to solve them. They have trashed the programs developed by the people themselves as though only whites know best for black people but it is this precise arrogance and racist attitudes that's caused racial and ethnic disparities in the first place."
Councilman Wendell Young: "It’s a travesty when any of us can find a way to harness not only the city administration but to somehow co-op the media into doing an attack ... I want to extend my thanks and an apology to the Center for Closing the Health Gap. I think it's a travesty that the Center for Closing the Health Gap has had to come down here (City Hall) and defend itself simply because it’s a political season. Many people believe, Mr. Mayor, that you’re the author of this."
Councilman Chris Seelbach: But I do find it incredibly troubling that a month and a half before an election that all of the sudden the spotlight is being shone on (the Health Gap), by every media source in this city, there’s something inherently wrong and political about that.
Councilman Charlie Winburn: "I want Mr. Tillery and everyone to know right now: You’ve got my vote and I plan to support you ... I believe there's five votes that will not allow the Closing the Health Gap to be de-funded."
Councilman Christopher Smitherman: "I’m not going to get hoodwinked and bamboozled into discussing Closing the Health Gap…”