Five Democratic members of Cincinnati City Council spent the first three months of this year talking about city business via text, discussions that encompassed the former city manager, nixing appointments to boards and what they thought about a possible FC Cincinnati stadium deal.
And at times, they expressed contempt for Mayor John Cranley, a fellow Democrat.
"He just flat out lied," Councilman Wendell Young said in a March 16 text. In the same text, Young referred to Cranley as a "little sucker."
"Cranley could be lying to me," Councilman Chris Seelbach said in a March 12 text. "Would never trust him for a second."
The texts, long rumored to read like a salacious novel, don't come close to that. They're more City Hall confidential, a primer on how things get done behind the scenes.
Speculation about the texts – what they say, how many they are – has created a firestorm in City Hall unlike any that political insiders have ever seen.
Throughout the strings of text messages, the council members talked about doing business that the city's charter requires council to do in public. They described themselves as a new "Gang of Five," referring to a majority that dominated council in the 1990s.