Editorial: 'As City Hall Turns'

Cincinnati City Hall at night
Posted at 6:30 AM, Mar 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-27 13:14:46-04

We’ve been watching the soap opera at Cincinnati City Hall with growing dismay. 

But before we weigh in  with our two cents – and ask for your thoughts – a synopsis of “As City Hall Turns” is in order:

John and Harry had a falling out. John tried to get rid of Harry, but Harry stood his ground. John gossiped about Harry going to a strip club with some city workers. John said if Harry didn’t get out, he might have some more salacious things to bring up.

Meanwhile, at the police department, which Harry runs, Bridget earned $80,000 in one year in overtime pay alone. Harry said a “rogue element” there was causing problems. Harry fired Dave, sort of, but Dave will still get $400,000 for doing nothing until he retires.

Dan secretly recorded Harry griping about the police department. Lurking underneath it all was old-school Cincinnati racial politics.

We couldn’t make up a better daytime drama if we tried.

It would all be amusing except there are reputations and careers at stake and this dysfunction at our city’s seat of government is counter-productive. And taxpayers are ponying up "Hamilton"-like ticket prices for this show, which will definitely not be in the running for a Daytime Emmy.

The drama is taking center stage while there is real, you know, work to be done.

We believe governments can and should work for their citizens. Make their lives better, pave the streets, pick up the trash, look after our security and handle the real problems that crop up.

With that in mind, here is a short list of tasks the mayor, the manager and the council could prioritize instead of plotting their next political maneuvers:

  • The budget office has forecast a deficit of $23 million in the next fiscal year, which starts in a few months on July 1. That’s a big gap, especially for a mayor who ran on a promise of balancing the checkbook.
  • Driving in Cincinnati has become downright dangerous due to the need to dodge an ever-growing and ever-deepening number of potholes. 
  • Our minor-league soccer club wants to join the major leagues and says it needs a brand new stadium to do so. That stadium belongs in Cincinnati, but where?

That should be enough to keep our city leaders busy, at least for the next few months, maybe even too busy to indulge in the kind of "Days of Our Lives" dramatics we’ve witnessed.

There has been a promising development in this whole spectacle. Five members of Cincinnati City Council joined together and said ‘Hold on, we’re in charge here.” 

Dennard, Landsman, Sittenfeld, Seelbach and Young want an independent examination of the whole affair: Did Harry Black create a hostile workplace? Is he being railroaded by the mayor? Is there really a rogue element in the police department, or worse, a culture of racism?

These are real issues that deserve real deliberation, and the Steadfast Five have emerged as the adults in the room.

They need to keep their united front, stay on the high ground and keep pressing for real answers to these questions.

Because the sooner we get them, they sooner they can get to work on what really matters. 

What do you think? You can email your opinion to David Holthaus at or message him on Twitter: @dgholthaus