Enquirer editorial: Open government issues surrounding city council texts are not trivial

Editorial from The Cincinnati Enquirer

To the average citizen, all this fuss over a few text messages among the majority of Cincinnati City Council might seem trivial. But it's not. The content of Council members Wendell Young and Tamaya Dennard's disappeared text messages may be innocuous, but to haughtily flout the law sends a signal that council members don't care about voters or open government.

This is one of the reasons we trumpet transparency and opposed Issue 12, which granted council the ability to meet behind closed doors in executive session. Young testified before a grand jury this week about whether he destroyed text messages that a judge ordered turned over as part of a lawsuit alleging the council members illegally held meetings via text.

If true, Young's actions are disturbing and potentially criminal. As a former police officer, Young knows the importance of preserving evidence, so intentionally destroying texts vital to a court case would be unconscionable and would bring into question his fitness to serve. We'll give Dennard the benefit of the doubt about dropping her cell phone in a pool, resulting in her lost texts. Given Mayor John Cranley's mishap with his cell phone and a hot tub earlier this year, perhaps it's time for some rules governing council members' cell phone use near bodies of water.