Connecting You to a World of Ideas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Analysis: There's One Takeaway From The 'Gang Of Five' Texts Released Thursday

gang of five
All courtesy
From top left: P.G. Sittenfeld, Greg Landsman, Wendell Young, Tamaya Dennard and Chris Seelbach.

One thing was abundantly clear in the over 600 pages of text messages and emails from the "Gang of Five" Cincinnati Council members – they have no use whatsoever for Mayor John Cranley.

No "hail to the chief" in these pages (which you can read for yourself here).

Here's Council Member Wendell Young on March 16, 2018, talking about Cranley and then-city manager Harry Black:

"Just got a call from Harry's lawyer and then from Harry regarding their being told that I am the fifth vote on a separation package. I haven't spoken to that little sucker (Cranley). He just flat-out lied to Harry and his lawyer."

Or this, from Chris Seelbach, in a text exchange from March 9, 2018:

"So Cranley told Harry at 2 p.m. today to resign or he'd launch a smear campaign against him."

How about this exchange from March 13, 2018? Four council members – P.G. Sittenfeld, Wendell Young, Tamaya Dennard and Chris Seelbach were on the line:

Sittenfeld: "FYI, Harry just told me he's going to shut down the settlement talks and fight this. Obviously a fluid situation, but that's what he just said."

Dennard: "Good."

Sittenfeld: "He's public with it."

Seelbach: "Cranley just called a 3:30 p.m. press conference."

Young: "Mini-Trump is lying again."

And in case, you were wondering if the five council members were unaware they might be doing something illegal with their group texting, there was this exchange on March 20, 2018:


"I also worry that we're coming close to opening ourselves to a Sunshine Law issue with this text thread."


"A very fair consideration."

Of course, it did not stop them from continuing the conversations for months to come.

And one council member, Chris Seelbach, had something to say about the serious illness suffered by Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman's wife. Pamela Smitherman recently passed away from her cancer. He also did some armchair psychology on Cranley and the vice mayor.


"And the fact that he is using his wife, saying 'While I'm home taking care of my dying wife,' is disgusting."


"It is really grotesque. Using that for a political agenda is actually staggering."


"Yup. As I've said for six years, both Cranley and Smitherman seem to have serious mental illnesses."

politically speaking 2
Credit Jim Nolan / WVXU

 Read more "Politically Speaking" here.  

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.