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Mayor Cranley asks Harry Black to resign after week of police disputes, sources report

Posted: 7:32 PM, Mar 09, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-10 09:16:04-05

CINCINNATI -- Mayor John Cranley asked City Manager Harry Black to resign Friday following a week in which long-running tensions between Black and some leaders of the Cincinnati Police Department finally boiled over, according to a City Council member and sources close to the two officials.

Black said he had no comment when asked about it Saturday morning, at the annual Cincinnati Neighborhood Summit. Cranley was scheduled to give the event's welcome and opening remarks, but he did not appear.

City Councilman Jeff Pastor tweeted Friday night that he is "aware the Mayor requested the City Manager to resign."

"Under the Charter, City Council has the sole power to terminate the city manager," he wrote. "I have no further comment on this matter at this time."

TIMELINE: How controversies have entangled city manager, police

Black has been at odds with some in police leadership since at least November 2017, when he made a late-night phone call accusing Fraternal Order of Police president Dan Hils of blocking the investigations by a city agency that reviews complaints against police officers.

"What I'm saying to you is that if you guys don't stop, I, as the city manager, will walk away from the ( Collaborative Agreement) refresh and I will let the entire world know why I am doing it -- it will be because of you," he said in that phone call, which Hils recorded and released to local media.

On Wednesday, Black accused a "rogue element" within the police department of working to undermine Police Chief Eliot Isaac because of Isaac's race. Both Black and Isaac are black men; Isaac declined to comment on Friday night's news.

According to Black, this contingent of officers had leaked an internal audit of overtime hours out of a desire to be "disruptive and insubordinate."

The audit, which was released the day after Capt. Bridget Bardua filed a sexual discrimination complaint against Assistant Police Chief Dave Bailey and two others, was authored by Bailey and listed Bardua as one of the department's top overtime earners.

Isaac and Black then dismissed Bailey, whom Hils said was pressured into accepting a "buyout" that would essentially force him into early retirement.

"I think there's disappointment that the leaders of the police department can't get along as well as the men and women who are on the streets doing the job," Hils said.

Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman called Bailey's departure "unfortunate" and suggested a council vote to limit the city manager's power; Councilman Chris Seelbach said in a tweet it was "disappointing to again see City Manager Harry Black dismiss someone with little respect for their service."

If Black did not willingly tender his resignation, Cranley would not have the power to unilaterally fire him. Instead, a council vote would be required to make the firing official.

Editor’s note: WCPO does not ordinarily use anonymous sources. However, WCPO staff members use anonymous sources in rare circumstances where such sources are the only way to obtain information vital to the public good. WCPO staff members have vetted these sources and believe the information they provide to be accurate and in good faith.