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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.

Audit Of Council Votes On Recent Economic Development Deals On The Way

cincinnati city hall
Jason Whitman
/
WVXU
Cincinnati City Hall

The city of Cincinnati will pay a contractor $150,000 for an audit of recent economic development deals. Council unanimously appropriated the funds Wednesday. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman requested a forensic audit earlier this year in response to three council members being indicted for corruption.

"The request was to see how all council members voted, if there are any independence issues; those sorts of things," said Assistant City Manager Christopher Bigham.

Tamaya Dennard, Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld were all accused of accepting money in exchange for favorable votes on development deals. Dennard pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. (Note: Wendell Young's recent indictment on a tampering with records charge is not related to the first three indictments, or to development deals at all.)

The audit will include about 200 ordinances passed between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2020, looking at measures in at least one of four categories:

  • Granted a tax exemption to support a specific development project
  • Appropriated funds for a grant or loan to support a specific development project
  • Appropriated funds for a grant or loan to or for services from a specific organization
  • Authorized the sale of city-owned real estate to support a specific development project

The city administration put out a request for proposals in March, and chose one of three bids for the project. The audit will take about four months.