Here's why we're reporting that our city manager went to a topless bar on a city trip

Posted at 4:13 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 16:14:36-04

Why would we report that City Manager Harry Blackwent to a topless bar while on a city trip to Denver in 2016?

As part of our Trust in News project, we’d like to tell you.

RELATED: WCPO participating in project on trust in the media

Yes, strip clubs are legal. And yes, it’s legal for a city manager to go to a strip club.


This was a trip Black went on with several other top local officials to learn more about how Denver city officials were using a new police technology.

It was a taxpayer-funded trip.

Black said he did not use taxpayer money at the topless bar.

Cranley and Black

But Mayor John Cranley’s former chief of staff, Jay Kincaid, who was on the trip, told WCPO that Black asked him and several other city employees to visit the club.

“I think it’s deeply inappropriate as the boss to recruit subordinates to go to a strip club,” Cranley said. "I think it's even worse to try to take a woman who is a subordinate to a strip club. It sends a message that is deeply troubling in the workplace.”

Black also talked about the club experience in a cab ride the next day on the way to the airport, Cranley said. He also said Black made everyone in the car uncomfortable and that it was “incredibly inappropriate.”

The mayor hand-picked Black for the job in 2014 and has given him generous raises over the years. But now Cranley is working to gather interviews and examples of Black's behavior in an effort to persuade council that the city needs a new manager. The topless bar incident is one example that Cranley says city employees might want to speak out about.

One of our goals here at WCPO is to be transparent. We want to be clear, in our storytelling and reporting, about where we get information and how we convey it. We are also eager to clarify why we make the decisions we do – whether that’s answering your questions in emails or phone calls or through on-air or online features explaining our actions. Click here to read more about who we are and what we do.

Meghan Wesley is a digital enterprise editor at WCPO.