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Cincinnati city council passes ban on developers to cut down on corruption

cincinnati city hall
Posted at 9:57 PM, Oct 27, 2021

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati city council passed on Wednesday a ban that applies to developers with business currently before council, to crack down on corruption as three Cincinnati council members have faced charges related to corruption recently.

"Cincinnati now has a reputation around the entire region as a pay to play City Hall," said council member and current candidate Steve Goodin. "And that's something that we have to change."

The proposal was unanimously approved by city council. As a result, elected officials will be barred from accepting or asking for donations from developers that have business before council.

"Any of those things for large commercial development could be worth 10s of millions of dollars," said Goodin. "So the idea that council members or the mayor will be raising money from that individual, while they're seeking that sort of assistance from us, is just wrong"

Goodin put the proposal forward and said he believes it helps ensure development projects are selected on merit, not money.

The ordinance comes after 2020 federal indictments of three city council members: Tamaya Dennard,Jeff Pastor and PG Sittenfeld.

"All three of the corruption arrests all dealt with the economic development process of one way or another, individuals who are seeking incentives or approvals. So it goes right to the heart of it," said Goodin.

Dennard pleaded guilty and is serving an 18-months sentence. Pastor and Sittenfeld are awaiting their trials, which are set for 2022.

"I do want to express a little bit of my disappointment. I think this can go a lot further. I wish we would have taken the time to go a lot further," said Liz Keating, Cincinnati council member and current candidate. "I was a little concerned when, um, I constantly heard that we wanted to get something taken care of and done now right before election day."

Goodin said there is more to do, but council needs to be careful to prevent violating laws protecting campaign donations.

"The state of the constitutional law has forced us to proceed with some caution. I'm all for keeping in going forward," said Goodin. "It is a substantive reform. It is the first reform of its kind that we've seen here in generations. I do think it's served as a framework. I do think it can be built upon but this isn't just something we rushed through."