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City Manager Black Resigns Before He Can Be Fired

Bill Rinehart
Mayor John Cranley prepares for a rare Saturday session of Cincinnati council.

Cincinnati council accepted the resignation of Harry Black after weeks of attempted dismissals. The city manager’s resignation came Saturday morning as council and the mayor started another effort to fire him.

Mayor John Cranley hired Black as city manager in August 2014. He asked Black to resign March 9, later saying Black has been "abusive" toward city employees and acted unprofessionally. Black refused.

On March 17, Cranley and Black announced they had agreed to a separation agreement. However, a council majority opposed that proposal. Council did agree to provide Black with eight months of salary if he resigned before April 30. That's the same amount he's entitled to if he's fired.

Five members were present for a Saturday morning special session to terminate Black, under Article III of the city’s charter. But Black turned in his resignation before the session started. He wrote: “It has been my pleasure serving as City Manager… It has also been my pleasure to work with the talented men and women who make up our city government...

“I have made this decision based on the reality that the work environment has become very hostile, and as such, untenable,” Black wrote.

He also says “In resigning, I am not surrendering any of my legal rights.”

Council appointed Patrick Duhaney as acting city manager. He was named assistant city manager in February after serving in the finance department. Duhaney joined the city in 2009.

Councilman Greg Landsman says he had hoped Black would resign. “This has to be a turning point for us. It can’t just be a moment in time. We’re going to all have to change. The mayor is going to have to change. Council’s going to have to change.”

greg landsman
Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Councilman Greg Landsman talks with reporters after council accepts Harry Black's resignation.

Landsman has been part of a council majority that stymied the mayor by refusing to approve a buyout offer. Earlier in the week, after hearing testimony about dysfunction at the city’s 911 center, which may have contributed to the death of a 16-year-old boy, Landsman announced he would switch his vote on Black.

“We have to get laser-focused on the big issues, especially fixing our 911 call center,” Landsman says. “There is consensus that this has to stop. The dysfunction has to end. We all have to start working together.”

Landsman says the level of chaos at city hall is on everyone on council and the mayor.

“I will always strive to work for greater collaboration and cooperation with city council,” Mayor Cranley says, adding he was standing up for city workers, and standing against retaliation that he says was happening as recently as the previous week. Cranley would not elaborate on any incidents.

“I strive to be a better communicator, a better collaborator, and I’m a work in progress and of course I can do better,” he says.

In a statement after the resignation, Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld wrote he had confidence in Duhaney as acting city manager. “What we need right now is focus – especially on fixing our 911 system and getting through a challenging city budget. Our citizens want leaders who work collaboratively to get things done.”

Cranley and Acting City Manager Duhaney planned to tour the city’s 911 center Saturday afternoon.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.