A local government watchdog alleged in a court filing Monday that five members of Cincinnati City Council held illegal, secret meetings via text and e-mail to discuss their position on the mayor's request that the city manager resign.
Council Members P.G. Sittenfeld, Wendell Young, Chris Seelbach, Greg Landsman and Tamaya Dennard -- a majority of the nine council members -- talked in person and via text and email when issuing two press releases about their position on Mayor John Cranley's request that City Manager Harry Black resign.
The first release laid out a process for investigating the mayor's claims, which the lawsuit alleges is city business that must be done in a public manner.
"This action results from the conduct of a cabal of five rogue members of the Cincinnati City Council, whereby this cabal has conducted illegal meetings of a majority of (council), attempting to decide matters of great public import behind closed doors and in secret communications and subverting the public's right to know and understand the actions of its public officials," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit was filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court by Mark Miller as a citizen. He is a treasurer for theCoalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes (Coast) and is represented by Brian Shrive, of the Finney Law Firm. Chris Finney is a Coast founder.Shrive, in the last Council election, donated $1,100 to Councilman Christopher Smitherman's campaign. Smitherman supports Black resigning with the larger settlement.