From The Cincinnati Enquirer Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley has vetoed a charter amendment that would leave it to voters to decide if the city council can meet in secret – but he isn’t optimistic that his move will keep the issue off the ballot.
That’s because the council needs six votes to override the mayor’s veto, and the issue passed with a 6-3 vote Monday.
“I’ve always been a believer in open and transparent government,” Cranley said after officially rejecting the measure in front of reporters.
“Probably nothing bad happens in executive sessions, but it breeds cynicism and distrust.”
The council overwhelmingly voted Monday to ask voters if the body can meet in private to address certain issues. An Enquirer review of the amendment shows that, if passed, executive sessions would be more limited than what Ohio law allows, but would still keep some information from the public.
Council could discuss:
• The city manager’s performance
• Buying or selling property if the discussion would give others an unfair competitive or bargaining advantage
• Disputes that are subject to court action
• Matters required to be kept secret by law
• Security arrangements
• Some information related to development assistance, such as how much taxpayer money is given to developers.
Councilwoman Yvette Simpson said Monday that some of these issues simply aren’t discussed at all because council members are reticent to talk about sensitive issues in a public meeting.
Simpson was joined in approving the measure by five council members: Amy Murray, Chris Seelbach, Wendell Young, Kevin Flynn and David Mann.
Councilmen Charlie Winburn, P.G. Sittenfeld and Christopher Smitherman voted against it.
This is the seventh time Cranley has vetoed an issue, but the first time that he said he expected his veto to be overturned. He acknowledged that the move was largely symbolic.
“The council often talks about its commitment to public meetings,” he said. “This gives them a chance to change their minds.”
If the issue is put on the ballot, as Cranley expects, he said he hopes that voters shoot it down come Election Day.