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WVXU has been covering the stories of politics and corruption at Cincinnati's City Hall since early 2020. We have now launched an initiative to more closely examine Cincinnati politics and the individuals who have shaped it, along with the current allegations of corruption. We'll also explore proposals for change, and seek feedback from local leaders and community members on what can be done to restore trust in City Hall.Trust in Local Government, WVXU's Public Integrity Project will analyze our council-manager form of government and the charter amendments designed to reinforce ethical standards at City Hall; take a historical look at corruption in Cincinnati government; talk with the candidates for Cincinnati mayor and continue with an ongoing series of features, interviews and candidate profiles.

Council Discussing A New 'Scorecard' To Ensure Balanced Development Projects

cincinnati city hall
Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati City Hall

The ongoing effort to restore trust in Cincinnati government includes a new development scorecard. Council Member Greg Landsman presented his plan to the Budget and Finance Committee Monday.

"My hope is that we'll pass something in the next couple weeks that does give the administration much greater clarity as to the priorities, and gives clarity to communities and to developers," Landsman said.

Three council members were arrested on federal corruption charges in the past year, all accused of accepting bribes in exchange for supporting development projects.

Interim Council Member Steve Goodin was appointed to fill one of those vacancies at the end of November.

"Our current situation creates a swamp in which individual council members are talking to individual developers about priorities and expectations," Goodin said. "And it is an invitation to bad behavior."

The proposal has bipartisan support, but council members may disagree on what to prioritize and how much leeway administration should have during negotiations.

Budget and Finance Committee Chairman David Mann says it's a much-needed proposal.

"We talk about affordable housing is something we care about; inclusion is something we care about; local hiring is something we care about; community engagement," Mann said. "But there’s not one document that says those things."

Council members are considering whether the final product should score each development numerically, or just describe how it does or doesn't meet the priorities. Landsman says there are pros and cons to each approach. But Billy Weber, chief of staff to the city manager, told council the administration would not support a more prescriptive scoring policy.

Landsman hopes the final version of the scorecard will get a vote in two weeks.

See the current version of the proposed scorecard below. 

Draft of Development Project Scorecard by WVXU News on Scribd

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.