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New leader for city health board as Council votes on federal grant application

The chairwoman of Cincinnati's Board of Health is not being re-appointed to the board.  Joyce Kinley told Council's Budget and Finance Committee Monday Mayor John Cranley told her of his decision on February 24th.  

Council Member Chris Seelbach and Kinley had this exchange during the meeting.

  • Seelbach:  Did the Mayor give you any explanation?
  • Kinley:  He told me that he had to fulfill a campaign promise, and that's why he had to remove me.

Seelbach said he is concerned about putting politics above what is best for the city.  

"If there's evidence that shows that politics or a campaign promise was the reason that Ms. Kinley is not being reappointed, that's very troublesome and hard to hear," Seelbach said.  

Kinley was added to the health board in February 2011.  Her term expired March 1st.  

Sources said Mayor Cranley wants to replace health commissioner Noble Maseru, and changing the make-up of the board is a way to do that.
The mayor's aides did not respond to a text and e-mail seeking comment.  

The mayor can make such appointments, but they have to be confirmed by the full city council.  

Meanwhile, five council members are supporting the health department's request to apply for a $1.3 million federal grant to expand services at its existing health clinics, and add primary care at the Burnet Avenue location.  The money would not be used to increase the number of city clinics.

City health officials said the facilities are seeing additional patients after Neighborhood Health Care closed four clinics in December.  The health department said the grant funding would allow it to get some reimbursement for seeing some of those patients.  Without the grant, the funding comes straight from a subsidy provided in the city's strained general fund budget.  

The full Council could consider the issue Wednesday, if Mayor Cranley places it on the agenda.  Last week he raised serious objections to the grant application.  He said he believed the city health department led a letter writing campaign objecting to federal funding for Neighborhood Health Care, ensuring the financially troubled clinics would be closed.  

City health officials deny that allegation.  They say any letters raised concerns about the clinics possibly merging with an out-of-state health care provider.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.