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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.

Anti-Corruption Panel Wants Public Input On Development Reform Recommendations

cincinnati city hall
Becca Costello
Cincinnati City Hall.

An anti-corruption panel wants feedback from Cincinnatians on potential recommendations for reform. The Economic Development Reform Panel must submit final suggestions to City Council by Aug. 1; a virtual public hearing Friday at 1 p.m. offers the chance for you to weigh in.

Panel chair Ann Marie Tracey says the initial recommendations are not final.

"They are preliminary in the hopes that the public, people running for office and whomever is interested, provide input to us about where we need to make changes; maybe we need to fill some gaps," Tracey said.

The panel was formed in response to three council members indicted on corruption charges last year. The members are accused of accepting money in exchange for positive votes on development projects.

The initial draft includes recommending the city maintain a hotline for reporting misconduct. Tracey says city employees and members of the public need a confidential way to raise concerns.

"The current hotline is limited to fraud, waste and abuse," Tracey said. "It's very infrequently used at all, and mostly not with respect to that."

Council asked the panel to consider a ban on contributions for two years before a development gets a final vote. Tracey says they ultimately decided against that recommendation.

"As a practical matter, the project may not even be in anybody's head 24 months ahead of time," she said. "And we would really hate to disqualify large or even small developers who may not know of this rule from exercising their civic duty to contribute to folks they think would make good public servants." 

Instead, the panel wants to recommend a ban on contributions only as long as a development deal is being considered by council. It would cover the period of time from when a development is filed with the Clerk of Council until final action — it would not cover the months or years a developer is negotiating a deal with city officials.

This requirement would include an "active developer list" to be published online alongside campaign finance reports.

The draft recommendations say council should not be involved in negotiating or brokering development deals, and that members should direct developer questions to city administration.

Commenters must register in advance using an online form. Each person will be able to speak to the panel for two minutes. 

See the full list of draft recommendations below.

EDRP Summary of Recommendations Proposed by WVXU News on Scribd